HIU Stuns UNOH in Lima Bracket Semifinal
Erich Gonzalez went 3-for-5 at the plate and scored thrice. (Photo by Mike Campbell)
Erich Gonzalez went 3-for-5 at the plate and scored thrice. (Photo by Mike Campbell)
Baseball - Tue, May 16, 2017
Northwestern Ohio
Hope International University
Northwestern Ohio (44-11)1020220007152
Hope International (34-16)00101609X17160
Lima, Ohio St. Rita's Complex
Northwestern OhioPitchingHope International
-Winner CASTILLO, George
Ross CervantesLoser-
-Save CONLIN, Brandon
Northwestern OhioIndv. StatsHope International
#4 Erich GonzalezDoubles 2 Players (#25,#8)
NoneTriples None
2 Players (#7,#5)Home Runs #25 BARANEK, Cameron

LIMA, Ohio – The NAIA No. 7 and top-seeded University of Northwestern Ohio baseball team looked to continue its win streak to 28 games during the second day of the NAIA Baseball Opening Round, but the three-seeded Hope International (Calif.) University looked to upset the host team on Tuesday.

The contest looked promising for the Racers (44-11) as UNOH, the visiting team in the contest, held a 7-2 lead through the top of the sixth inning, but the Royals (34-16) stormed back with a massive six-run bottom half to take an 8-7 lead. The Racers were unable to bounce back while HIU added to the difference with nine runs in the eighth en route to the 17-7 upset.

A RBI single by Blake Maines in the top of the first scored Erich Gonzalez while a two-run bomb by Jeff Cardenas in the third found its way over the centerfield wall. The home run was the senior's ninth of the season, tying Kyle Fisher for the second most on the team this year. The Royals got their first run back on a Brett Thompson RBI single to right in the bottom of the frame.

UNOH extended the lead once again in the top of the fifth with back-to-back RBI singles by Cardenas and Junior Gomez. However, HIU did not balk in the bottom half as it capitalized on a Cameron Baranek sacrifice fly to chip away.

Come the top of the sixth, a two-run home run by Dayfran Ortiz looked to put the game away, but the ever-resilient Royals squad was set for their massive comeback. All six runs came with two outs on the board and following a bang-bang play at first and were highlighted by a bases-clearing grand slam by Baranek.

A call to the bullpen by the Royals eventually led to a three-inning save for Brandon Collin as he shut down the high-powered Racers, limiting UNOH to three hits over the final three innings. The win went to George Castillo (8-3) as he threw 6.0 innings and gave up all seven runs off of 12 Racer hits.

Kyle Thomas started the contest rolling as he went 5.2 innings and struck out 12 batters, tied for the third-most in program history, in the no-decision start after. He was credited with seven earned runs. Ross Cervantes (2-1) suffered the loss after giving up the lead-changing grand slam against his first batter.

Gonzalez, Cardenas, and Gomez all went 3-for-5 at the plate to lead the Racers at the plate. Three runs were scored by Gonzalez while Cardenas drove in three plus the one he scored on the long ball. Joining the trio with multiple hits were Ortiz and Jonathan Rodriguez with 2-for-4 outings of their own.

The 17 runs were the most given up by UNOH all season.

UNOH will take on the two-seeded Middle Georgia State University after it defeated the four-seeded MidAmerica Nazarene University 8-1 on Tuesday night. The game is scheduled to start at 11 AM at the St. Rita's Sports Complex as the teams will duke it out to see which will have a shot against Hope International in the championship round.