The Belhaven baseball team will make their first Avista NAIA World Series appearance thanks to a 4-3 win over Texas Wesleyan University in game eight of the 2010 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round at Smith-Wills Stadium Thursday night. Timmy Fosters two run home run off Ram relief pitcher Jacob Lyons in the bottom of the six inning proved to be the game winner giving the Blazers their first opening round tournament title.
The game remained scoreless through the first three innings as both teams had solid pitching to open the contest. In the top of the fourth, Texas Wesleyan (32-28) got on the board thanks to a two run home run by Travis Spencer that sailed over the left center field fence to make it 2-0 Rams. One batter later, the lighting and rains came stopping play for two hours and seven minutes.
The game resumed at 9:19 with one out in the top of the fourth inning and in the bottom of the fifth Belhaven (43-15) evened the game at 2-2. With one out and the bases loaded, Drew Dillard drove a two run single into right field plating Mark Gray and Brandon Benton. The Rams prevented further damage in the frame by turning a 5-4-3 double play to get the final two outs and keep the game deadlocked at two apiece.
Texas Wesleyan got some momentum back in the top of the sixth by putting runners on second and third with one out. Travis Spencer smashed a single followed by a Justin Keller double that found the gap in right center field. Spencer then came in to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Leighton Rush to make it 3-2 Texas Wesleyan.
In the bottom of the inning Lake Eiland started things off with a single to left center and then Foster hit the biggest home run of the season and his career by slamming his 10th round tripper of the year over the wall just to the left of center to put Belhaven on top 4-3. The Blazer bullpen then kept the Rams at bay for the rest of the night to preserve the victory as second baseman Lake Eiland threw out Kyle Frasard for the final out in the ninth inning.
Riley Galloway started for Belhaven and pitched the first six innings allowing just three runs on seven hits for the victory. Galloway did not walk a batter and struck out three as he improves to 2-5 on the season. Andy Kuehn pitched two shutout innings in relief and Wade Broyles notched his 13th save by firing a scoreless ninth inning with two more strikeouts giving him 70 on the season. Eiland collected three hits in four at bats while Dillard and Foster each had a hit and two runs batted in. Foster now has a team high 74 RBIs to go along with his 10 home runs and NAIA best 30 doubles.
Jacob Lyons (0-3) took the loss for Texas Wesleyan as he surrendered all four Belhaven runs on six hits in four innings of work. Spencer paced the Rams at the plate going 2 for 4 with his sixth home run of the year and had two runs batted in. Nick Schrock, Adam Resendez and Justin Keller each had a pair of hits as well.
This feels great and this is a great win for the kids, said Belhaven Head Coach Hill Denson following the victory. This has been one of our major objectives as a program to get to the Avista NAIA World Series and it feels good to accomplish that goal. Coach Denson had these comments on Foster and Broyles, Timmy is our RBI guy and has been a great run producer in our lineup and Broyles is automatic out of the bullpen.
I felt good tonight and had great command of my pitches, said Broyles. Its hard not to be pumped up in a one run game as closer. I am also really happy for the team and Coach Denson who have worked hard all season long to get us to this point.
Belhaven will now await word on their seeding in the 2010 Avista NAIA World Series when the 10-team, official bracket is announced by 10 p.m. CDT on Friday.
See the official Belhaven baseball web site for more details on the game.
Belhaven University, formerly Belhaven College, prepares men and women academically and spiritually to serve Christ Jesus in their careers, in human relationships, and in the world of ideas. Founded in 1883, the University now serves over 3,000 students from campuses in Jackson, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, and online.