Fresno Pacific raced out to a 6-0 lead and then held on for an 8-5 win over Bellevue to force a second championship game in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament Thursday afternoon at Lewis and Clark Park.
The two teams will meet again on Friday at noon. The winner of that game will advance to the Avista-NAIA World Series on May 22-30 in Lewiston, Idaho.
After dropping their tournament opener, Fresno Pacific has battled back with four-straight wins.
Matty Johnson led the Bruins at the plate, going 3-for-5 while scoring two runs.
A lead-off home run by Fresno Pacific’s Jared Coleman on the game’s second pitch gave the Sunbirds an early 1-0 lead. It marked Coleman’s second lead-off home run on the day as he fired a shot over the left field fence on the game’s third pitch in FPU’s 6-2 win over Madonna in an elimination contest earlier in the day.
Consecutive doubles by Dwight Nixon and Anthony Lowell expanded the Sunbirds lead to 2-0 early in the second frame. Following two walks and a wild pitch, FPU loaded the bases and promptly added four more runs. A single by Tyler Pryor plated a pair and a double by Case Rigby made the score 6-0 and ended the day for Bruin starter Kyle Wink.
Bellevue chipped away at the lead in the bottom of third, scoring three runs. The Bruins got two back following singles by Justin Long and Johnson and a fielding error by Sunbird shortstop Alec Mehrten. After Jadlowski reached on the error and Templeton recorded an infield single, a wild pitch by Sunbird starter Kelyn Schellenberg plated Jadlowski to cut the lead to 6-3.
Singles by Long and Johnson and an RBI single to center field by Jadlowski gave the Bruins their fourth run of the game in the bottom of the fourth. With runners on the corners, Johnson stole home to narrow the margin to 6-5.
After three scoreless innings, FPU pushed one run across in the top of the sixth following an RBI single by Coleman which scored Joey Norwood who reached second on an infield single and a throwing error by Templeton.
Doubles by Pryor and Justin Keeney provided an insurance run for the Sunbirds in the top of the ninth to make the final score 8-5.