JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- The No. 2 Bellevue University baseball team hit five seventh inning home runs to break open a 4-0 game en route to a 14-1 victory over Mayville State University in the 2016 North Star Athletic Association Championship Game at Jack Brown field on the University of Jamestown campus on Monday afternoon.
The Bruins head into the National Tournament with an overall mark of 47-9 after sweeping through the NSAA Tournament. Mayville State heads into the post-season with a 31-28 record, which includes wins in 15 of their final 21 ball games.
Mayville State needed the "if necessary" game to advance to the finals. The Comets topped Jamestown 9-6 earlier in the day to earn the North Star's second automatic qualification bid to the NAIA Opening Round Tournament.
Saving regular season ace Ben McKendall (11-1) until the championship game paid off for the Bruins. The junior right-hander logged eight innings in which he allowed just a run on six hits and struck out five to pick up his 11th win of the year.
The Bruins struck first when Joe Mancuso belted his fourth home run in as many games of tournament action to stake the top-seed to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning.
BU added to their lead an inning later when Trevor Jones popped a two-run dinger of the right field fence to make it 3-0. That's where the score stayed until the sixth when Joe Moran hit his first of two home runs on the afternoon, a solo shot to right. Prior to today's game, Moran had tallied just one collegiate long ball in his career.
It came apart for Mayville State in the seventh when it became apparent that the Comets had run out of pitching. The first four batters of the inning reached base for Bellevue including Jake Browne and Gabriel De La Rosa who both mashed two-run shots to put the Bruins up 8-0. The home run derby didn't stop there as Moran added a two-run job, Derik Bontempo clubbed a two-run shot (his fifth of the tournament), and Colton Nash went deep with a two-run tater. Bellevue capped their offensive explosion with a sac fly from De La Rosa who had pinch hit earlier in the inning. In all BU scored 10 times in the frame to go up 14-0.
Aaron Miller homered in the eighth inning to avoid the shutout but it was far too little, too late for Mayville State.
Both Bellevue and Mayville State await Friday's selection show to find out their Opening Round opponents and travel destinations.
Odds and Ends:
- Bellevue out-scored their opposition 55-13 in four tournament games.
- Bellevue hit 15 home runs in the NSAA Tournament. Prior to that, the Bruins had hit 26 home runs in 52 games.
- Bellevue has now won 13 conference tournament championships, including two in a row.
- The eight home runs hit by the Bruins are the most in a game since the 2010 team hit eight in win over Central Christian (Apr. 10).