Early Offense Showcased in Day One of Lima Bracket
Junior Gomez opened the flood gates for UNOH with a three-run homer in the top of the first. (Photo by Mike Campbell)
Junior Gomez opened the flood gates for UNOH with a three-run homer in the top of the first. (Photo by Mike Campbell)
Baseball - Mon, May 15, 2017

LIMA, Ohio – The 2017 NAIA Baseball Opening Round got off to a hot start as the first pitch thrown in the Lima Bracket was sent flying over the left field wall by MidAmerica Nazarene University's Jason Jones as the event opened play at the University of Northwestern Ohio's St. Rita's Sports Complex. 

Hope International (Calif.) University's Cameron Baranek was not to be outshined as he led off game two with a homer of his own. Though UNOH was unable to keep the leadoff trend going in the day's finale, Junior Gomez ripped a three-run bomb in the top of the first as early power was showcased at the plate.

MNU added a second run in the inning thanks to a RBI by Nelson Santiago to score Logan Tills. The Midway University (28-29) soared back with three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead thanks to aggressive base running as the Eagles stole four bases in the frame.

However, Matt Terrones (9-4) settled into his start from that point on to put the pressure on the Pioneer hitters. Solo runs in the fourth and eighth provided MNU (35-19) the lead before a four-run ninth put the game out of reach. Joel Lopez relieved Terrones in the one-out jam in the eighth to earn his seventh save as the Pioneers claimed the opener, 8-3.

Baranek's leadoff bomb against the two-seeded Middle Georgia State University looked to give a spark to the Royals' bench, but HIU could not get any other offense going in the opening inning.

MGA (43-15) rallied with two outs in the bottom of the third to claim the lead with a two-run homer by Andy Mocahbee to mark his 15th on the season. However, HIU used a leadoff single by Jeff Murray following the turn of the inning to score two runs of their own on a two-RBI single by Nolan Kraemer.

The Royals (33-16) added an insurance run in the seventh on a fielder's choice as HIU looked to secure the upset. Calls to the bullpen secured the victory for Dominic Potlongo (7-4) and the Royals as Josh Steele was credited with his first save of the year.

UNOH (44-10) added a fourth run in the first to provide the Racers with a comfortable lead early on. However, the Pioneers showed no signs of surrendering as they began to chip away at the deficit with a Christian Quinones sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second.

A Carlos Baerga, Jr. RBI single nullified the run in the fourth, but the Pioneers answered in the sixth to keep the gap at just three runs while an impressive relief performance by Phil Graham kept MNU within striking distance.

In the end, the host Racers scored a run in each of the final two innings to extend their win streak to 26 games. Damon Proctor (13-0) remained perfect for UNOH as allowed just four hits and two runs while striking out nine batters with his sixth complete game.

Action resumes in Lima on Tuesday morning as Middle Georgia State takes on Midway in the early 9 AM elimination contest. UNOH and Hope International square off in a battle of the unbeaten teams with a scheduled start time of 12:30. MNU will await the winner of the opener for the 4 PM showdown.

More information on the Lima bracket can be found at this link while full coverage of the NAIA Opening Rounds can be found on www.NAIA.org