MARION, Ind. – The Mount Vernon Nazarene University baseball team (32-18, 17-15) advanced to the Crossroads League Tournament Championship and secured an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament with wins over No.2 Taylor University and No.3 Huntington University.
It was a tight battle with Taylor throughout the entire nine innings, but the Cougars were victorious. The game was scoreless through three and a half innings before the Cougars finally got on the board. Cameron Miller hit a sac-fly and Casey Kalman hit a clutch, two-out single to give MVNU a 2-0 lead.
The Trojans picked up a run in the top-half of the fifth, cutting the lead to 2-1. Taylor was able to tie the game at two in the top of the ninth. The Trojans were able to get runners to second and third with two outs, but were not able to take the lead. The Cougars, however, were able to capitalize on opportunities. Chris Kline got a fastball he could handle and drove it down the right-field line to score the runner from second, walking-off on the Trojans 3-2, and sending the Cougars to the semifinals.
In game two, the Cougars used a huge ninth inning to top a talented Huntington team. The Cougars jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second after a costly error from Huntington. Huntington came right back with two runs in the bottom of the third as the game stayed 2-1 until the ninth inning. In the top of the ninth, the Cougars scored on an RBI double from Kalman. Joe Poremsky successfully laid down a suicide squeeze to score another run. Kline also manufactured a run through a squeeze play. Jake Glover pitched a complete game and shut down the Foresters in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the 4-2 victory, MVNU claimed an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round.
Inside the Box Score: Game one
Aaron Saal had a good game at the plate. He finished 2-4 with a run scored.
Hogan Heck, Kalman, Kline, and C. Miller, each had a base knock in the game. Heck scored the winning run for the Cougars after drawing a walk.
Adam Goodpaster pitched a great game for the Cougars. He went six and two-thirds innings, allowing just one run on six hits. Goodpaster also struck out four.
Cruz McFadden got the win for the Cougars. He was able to come in and get the last two outs of the ninth inning for MVNU.
Inside the Box Score: Game two
The Cougars finished with 10 hits on the afternoon. Walker had three of those 10 hits.
Saal finished with another multi-hit game for MVNU. He had two hits in four at bats and scored two runs for the Cougars.
Kalman, Kline, and Poremsky, each had a hit and an RBI for the Cougars as well.
Glover went the distance on the mound for MVNU. He only allowed five hits in the game. Glover struck out three and did not walk a batter in the win. Both Huntington runs were unearned.
MVNU will play for a Crossroads League Tournament title tomorrow against No.1 IWU. First pitch from Marion, Indiana is set for 11:00am.
PLAYING FOR A TITLE
For the first time since May 12, 2016, Indiana Wesleyan will be playing for a Crossroads League Tournament Title. On that day, IWU was named co-champion along with top-seeded Taylor after the game was rained out after five innings. The game ended in a 3-3 tie. It was the first time in 31 years the Wildcats had won a league championship.