BELLEVUE, Neb. -- The top-seeded Bellevue University baseball team held on for a 7-6 victory over No. 4 seed University of Antelope Valley Monday night at Roddy Field in the Bruins' first game of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round - Bellevue Bracket.
Bellevue improved to 50-9 on the season with the win and will now play the No. 2 seed University of Science and Arts (Okla.) at 1 p.m. tomorrow in a winner's bracket contest. USAO defeated Davenport, 4-2, earlier in the day.
UAV (37-17) will play at 6 p.m. tomorrow night in a loser's bracket contest. They will face the winner of the 9:30 a.m. contest between Davenports and Judson.
The Bruins got out of the gate quickly with a three-run homer to left field by Riley Baasch to put BU up 3-0 in the top of the first.
The Pioneers took advantage of two hit batsmen, two wild pitches, and a walk by BU starter Todd Nicks to score a pair of runs on only one hit, an RBI single to left-center by Luke Smith to slice the BU lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the second.
A solo homer to right-center field by Jake Harrison tied the contest at 3-3 in the bottom of the third frame.
The Bruins scored on an RBI single to center field by Joe Moran to regain the lead at 4-3 in the top of the fifth inning.
Moran's spectacular diving catch at the center field fence prevented two UAV runs from scoring, ending the fifth inning and keeping the score at 4-3 entering the sixth.
Three-straight singles including an RBI shot by Matt Evans to center field increased the BU advantage to 5-3 in the top of the sixth.
An RBI double to right-center field by Smith brought the Pioneers back to within one run at 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth. UAV tied the game later in the inning on an RBI infield single by Adam Maciel that scored Smith from third.
A two-out solo home run to right field by Miles Campbell gave the Bruins a 6-5 margin in the top of the seventh.
After the Pioneers produced a pair of singles in the bottom of the seventh to put runners on first and third with one out, David Mendez replaced Nicks and recorded a strikeout and induced a fly out to right to end the threat.
A solo homer to right-center by Derik Bontempo gave the Bruins a 7-5 cushion in the top of the eighth inning. It marked Bontempo's team-leading 18th home run of the season.
The Pioneers made it a one-run ball game in the bottom of the eighth, scoring on a bases-loaded RBI infield single by William Garcia to slice the BU lead to 7-6.
After the Bruins stranded two baserunners in the top of the ninth to keep the lead at one run, Mendez struck out Easton Withers and was replaced by Max Dwyer who loaded the bases after giving up a single, walk and hit batsmen. Dwyer struck out Adam Maciel to earn his ninth save of the season, preserving the 7-6 victory.
Todd Nicks (10-3) was credited with the win, scattering seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work. Mendez struck out two while allowing four hits with one walk in two innings on the mound.
Dallas Litscher (9-4) was tagged with the loss, allowing 15 hits with three walks and five strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.
Baasch led the Bruins at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Luke Smith went 3-for-5 for the Pioneers with a double and two RBIs.