CLAREMORE, Okla. (LyonScots.com) – Rogers State University appears to have heated up at the right time and the teams in the NAIA Claremore Opening Round Championship are finding it out one at a time. After the No. 4-seed Hillcats bumped fifth-seed Midland University (8-4) and shocked No. 1-seed and 4th-ranked Lubbock Christian University (7-5) on Thursday, RSU exploded for an eight-run first inning on Friday to advance to the championship round with a 16-2 win over Lyon College at the Diamond Sports Complex.
The Hillcats, who advanced to the NAIA World Series in 2012, recorded their 10th playoff win in their last 12 tries with a 15-hit attack as they improved to 34-22 with the verdict over the Scots.
Rogers State, which entered the postseason with 16th and final at-large bid to the NAIA playoffs, rolled to its third consecutive win, despite the low seeding, and is now the only undefeated team in the Claremore Opening Round bracket. The Hillcats will await the survivor of two other games and will play in the first championship game Saturday at 5 p.m.
Lyon College (42-15) will now play in an elimination game on 1 p.m. Saturday, taking on the survivor of Friday night's elimination contest between Lubbock Christian (42-16) and No. 2-seed and 11th-ranked Bellevue University (45-9-1), which started at 6 p.m.
The winner of the Lyon College semifinal game will have to defeat Rogers State twice to capture the tournament title and advance to the 57th annual Avista-NAIA World Series on May 24-31 in Lewiston, Idaho, joining host-team Lewis-Clark State (Idaho).
In Thursday's 3-0 win over Bellevue, the Lyon Scots could do no wrong. That wasn't the case against the Hillcats, as Rogers State came out aggressive and the Scots were unable to answer the attack.
Five different pitchers worked on the hill in the game for Lyon. Senior Brandon Haller (8-3) dropped his fourth decision in his last five starts by giving up seven runs on five hits while walking two in just 0.2 innings.
Senior Kyle Matthews saw action, giving up one run on three hits in 0.1 innings. Senior Colten McSpadden pitched 3.1 frames, surrendering two earned runs (5 total) on a pair of hits, with four walks. Junior John Almogabar gave up a hit in 0.2 innings and freshman Joseph Sitzman worked the last three frames, giving up three runs on four hits. None of the pitchers recorded a strikeout.
Jesse Baird (3-2) was the winning pitcher for the Hillcats. He started the game, lasting 6.1 innings. He gave up two runs on seven scattered hits. He also fanned five batters and walked one.
Despite the lopsided setback, the Scots did muster 10 hits in the game. Freshman centerfielder Kris Kohlstedt led the attack with a 3-for-4 effort, scoring a run and stealing a base. Junior designated hitter Mark Armenteros doubled in a 2-for-4 effort, while scoring a run. Junior leftfielder Wesley Roberson singled twice in four at-bats.
Lyon senior third baseman Colby Rogers singled and drove in a run, Sitzman singled in two at-bats and sophomore catcher Nathan Gutierrez singled, walk and plated once.
Twelve different RSU players recorded hits in the game, while 11 different Hillcats scored runs. Brandon Bargas tripled and doubled, finishing 2-for-3, with four runs batted in and a run scored. Jose Olazagasti also tripled, finishing 2-for-6, with a run and two RBIs.
After the Scots picked up just one hit in the top of the first, it appeared that the Lyon defense was going to get out of the bottom of the first with minimal damage, as the Hillcats scored a pair of runs and had two outs. But RSU would score six more runs on five hits, with two outs, as nine players came to the plate after the second out. Rogers State finished the frame with eight runs on eight hits, including a pair of triples.
The Hillcats added another run in the second and fourth frames to widen the gap to 10-0, before Lyon pushed a run across in the top of the fifth when Kohlstedt picked up an infield single, moved to third on a single by Roberson and plated on Colby Rogers' single up the middle.
RSU then scored three times in the bottom of the fifth to stretch its lead to 13-1. Gutierrez drove in Armenteros in the top of the sixth to trim the deficit to 13-2.
But the Hillcats scored once in the bottom of the sixth and two more times in the eighth to put the game away.
LYON COLLEGE-ROGERS STATE FINAL GAME STATS:
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 7, #1 Lubbock Christian University 5
Friday, May 10
Gm 4: #2 Bellevue University 7, #5 Midland University 2
Gm 5: #4 Rogers State University 16, #3 Lyon College 2
Gm 6: #2 Bellevue University vs. #1 Lubbock Christian University, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 11
Gm 7: #3 Lyon College vs. Game 6 Winner, 1 p.m.
Gm 8: #4 Rogers State University vs. Game 7 Winner, 5 p.m. (Championship Game #1)