CLAREMORE, Okla. (LyonScots.com) – Looking for an opportunity to open the NAIA Opening Round Baseball Championship on the right foot, Lyon College head baseball coach Tony Roepcke put his hottest pitcher on the hill in the Scots' first-round contest. Junior Ben Neyen responded with a three-hitter, while his teammates built their offense around eight hits and no errors on defense in Lyon's 3-0 blanking of 11th-ranked Bellevue University (Neb.) Thursday at Diamond Sports Complex.
The No. 3-seed Scots (42-14), who came into the five-team double-elimination tournament with the second-best record, will advance in the winners' bracket to a 2:30 p.m. Friday contest, playing the winner of Thursday evening's contest between No. 4-seed Rogers State (Okla.) and 4th-ranked and No. 1-seed Lubbock Christian University (Tex.) (42-15). Rogers State (32-22) defeated No. 5-seed Midland University (Neb.), 8-4, in Thursday's first contest.
Bellevue (44-10-1) will now play the 11 a.m. game Friday, battling Midland (31-25) in an elimination game. The survivor will have to play again at 6 p.m.
Neyen's performance was nothing short of masterful on Thursday. He did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, finishing the day with seven frames of no-hit baseball. Entering the game ranked 19th in the nation in wins, the Carrollton, Tex. native improved to 10-3 on the season, fanning eight and not allowing a walk in a 108-pitch performance. It was Neyen's seventh complete game in 14 starts this season, as he lowered his 2.33 ERA.
Bellevue starting pitcher Kody McFarland (7-2) entered the game averaging 11.4 strikeouts per game and only one loss. He scattered eight Lyon hits in his complete-game performance, while fanning six and not giving up a walk. His 99-pitch performance wasn't shabby, but couldn't be compared to Neyen's effort on the hill.
The Scots used timely hitting to push their three earned runs across the plate. With the two squads battling in a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second, freshman Blake Rogers (1-for-4) produced an infield single, which turned into a two-bag effort when the third baseman's throw on the play was wild.
Senior Caleb Durant (Argyle, Tex.) came in as a courtesy runner for the catcher and he scored with two outs when senior Roger Glaude (Beebe, Ark.) lined a single to leftfield and advanced to second on the throw to home.
Lyon junior Will Lindsey (Batesville, Ark.) then sliced a single to right field, which resulted in Glaude crossing the dish for the second run of the contest.
While Neyen was keeping the Bruins' offense at bay with no hits in six of the first seven frames, the Scots kept knocking on the door offensively.
Lyon College pushed an insurance run across the plate in the bottom of the seventh when lead-off hitter Kris Kohlstedt (freshman, Maumelle, Ark.) laced a double to left-center field with two outs. He plated one batter later when junior Wesley Roberson (Arlington, Tex.) connected with a double of his own, this one going to right-center.
That was all the offense that Neyen and the Scots' defense needed, as they closed out the Bruins, allowing just two hits in the ninth.
Roberson paced the Lyon offense with a 2-for-3 outing, while Glaude, Lindsey and Kohlstedt each posted 1-for-3 outings. Lyon senior Colby Rogers (Lewisville, Tex.) and senior Brian Lynn (Lewisville, Tex.) each finished 1-for-4.
Kyle Kinman, Nate Mullins and Beau Dahmen each had one hit for Bellevue, but it wasn't enough.
CLAREMORE OPENING ROUND CHAMPIONSHIP
(at. Claremore, Okla.)
SCHEDULE OF GAMES
Thursday, May 9
Gm 1: #4 Rogers State University 8, #5 Midland University 4
Gm 2: #3 Lyon College 3, #2 Bellevue University 0
Gm 3: #4 Rogers State University vs. Lubbock Christian University, 6 p.m.
Friday, May 10
Gm 4: #5 Midland University vs. #2 Bellevue University, 11 a.m.
Gm 5: Lubbock Christian/Rogers State Winner vs. #3 Lyon College, 2:30 p.m.
Gm 6: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 3 Loser, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 11
Gm 7: Game 5 Loser vs. Game 6 Winner, 1 p.m.
Gm 8: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner, 5 p.m. (Championship Game #1)