AVON PARK, Fla. -- Bellevue University head baseball coach Duane Monlux picked up his 500th career victory today with a pair of late-inning rallies at the Warner University Invitational.
The Bruins used a four-run seventh inning to pull out a 4-2 win over Spring Arbor in the opener giving Monlux his 500th win. Bellevue rallied for an 8-7 win in eight innings over Thomas (Ga.) in the final game of the day to remain undefeated in the tournament at 4-0.
Bellevue, which has now won six-straight games, improved to 13-6 on the season.
The Bruins advanced to the championship game and will meet the winner between No. 2 St. Francis and No. 3 Spring Arbor at 2:30 p.m. (central time) on Saturday, March 11.
Monlux, who is in his seventh season at Bellevue after spending nine years at Dickinson State, has now amassed a career coaching record of 501-270-5 (.648).
Bellevue 4, Spring Arbor 2
SAU grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on a two-run homer by Nick Harris.
However, neither team scored again until the Bruins plated four runs in the top of the seventh to pull out the 4-2 victory. Todd Nicks' three-run homer gave BU its first lead of the game and two batters later, Diego Iribarren belted a solo shot over the left-field fence to give the Bruins a two-run cushion.
After the Cougars lead-off batter in the bottom of the seventh reached on a single, Max Dwyer retired three-straight batters to pick up his third save of the season. Zach Wilson (2-1) earned the victory, scattering six hits while striking out six and walking one in six innings on the mound.
Bellevue 8 Thomas 7 (8 innings)
The Bruins used a pair of homers in the seventh to force extra innings, before pulling out the dramatic 8-7 win over the Nighthawks in eight innings.
Thomas got out of the gates quickly, scored a pair of runs on a BU fielding error and on an RBI single by Tanner Long. The Bruins responded in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly to right field by Derik Bontempo, slicing the lead to 2-1.
The Bruins took the lead at 3-2 in the bottom of the second, scoring two runs on two Nighthawk fielding errors.
TU regained the advantage in the top of the fifth at 6-3, scoring four runs on RBI singles by Logan Place, Dominic Berlin and Gavin Murphy and on a bases-loaded walk to Jalbert Melo.
The Bruins got one run back in the bottom of the fifth on Matt Evans' RBI double, drawing BU to within two runs at 6-4.
Murphy's solo homer in the top of the seventh gave TU a 7-4 advantage.
The Bruins forced extra innings with a two-run homer by Bontempo and a solo shot by Riley Baasch in the bottom of the seventh.
After holding the Nighthawks scoreless in the top of the eighth, Miles Campbell drove in the winning run with an RBI single through the 5-6 hole that scored Iribarren from third.