Hutchinson, Kan. – The Tabor College baseball team nearly let a big lead slip away before hanging on to defeat the No. 5 seeded Dakota State University Trojans by the score of 9-7, in the opening round of the NAIA national baseball tournament.
Tabor, the No. 4 seed, scored nine runs including six in the bottom of the first to quickly race out to 9-0 lead over the Trojans. Senior Adam McCormick got the scoring started in the top of the first with an RBI single that would score three, thanks in part, to a Trojan error. Fellow senior Matt Weger added an RBI single in the inning while senior Colby Tessendorf drove in two on an RBI triple to round out a big first inning for the Bluejays.
The scoring would continue for the Bluejays in the bottom of the second as Tabor scored on a Trojan balk to score the first run of the inning before Weger drove in his second run of the game to extend the lead to 8-0. KCAC player of the year, junior Art Corona, made it 9-0 on an RBI single in the bottom of the third to give Tabor a commanding lead.
Dakota State would begin to find its offense rhythm in the top of the fourth scoring its first run of the game to make the score 9-1 in favor of the Bluejays. The Trojans would add another run in the top of the fifth before exploding for five runs in the top of the seventh to cut the deficit down to two at 9-7.
The Bluejays would hold the Trojans scoreless in the eighth before senior Brian Kowal came on in relief in the ninth to finish the game and pick up the save.
Weger led Tabor at the plate going 3-3 with two RBIs and a run scored, while junior Paul Sciacca went 3-4 at the plate with a run scored. Tessendorf drove in two and went 2-3 at the plate, while Corona went 2-4 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored. McCormick rounded out the offense for the Bluejays with two RBIs in the game.
Both teams recorded 14 hits in the game with the Trojans committing two errors to just one by the Bluejays.
Senior Nicholas Reif got the start and picked up the win allowing four earned runs on 10 hits while striking out one in six innings of work. Junior Matt Lambert came on in relief to pitch two innings allowing three runs on four hits, before Kowal came on to save the game.
Tabor (42-13 Overall) will advance to play No. 1 seed Oklahoma Baptist University tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson, Kan.