LEWISTON, Idaho - A three-run, fifth-inning home run by sophomore left fielder J.P. LaPointe helped lift No. 7 seed Bellevue University (Neb.) to a 6-3 victory over No. 10 seeded Saint Xavier University (Ill.) Friday morning in the opening game of the 50th annual Avista NAIA World Series at Lewis-Clark State College's Harris Field. The Cougars (33-26 overall) had plenty of chances to score more runs in the game, but could not come up with the timely hits leaving 10 runners stranded on the base paths.
The Bruins (41-17) took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a RBI single by junior right fielder Mikel McIntyre, but SXU was able to tie the game in the bottom of the first with the help of two Bellevue errors. Senior shortstop Brendan Christy (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) plated Saint Xavier's first run of the game from second following a wild throw by Bruins sophomore catcher Mike Pratt.
Bellevue took a 3-1 lead in the top of the second when junior shortstop Scott Madsen singled and later scored on a double by junior first baseman Dion Parks. A balk by SXU junior starter Ryan Quigley (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) later scored the second run. The score remained 3-1 until LaPointe hit his sixth home run of the season with two outs in the top of the fifth.
Junior second baseman Craig Buske (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) answered with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh and the Cougars added another run in the bottom of the ninth on an error, but Bellevue senior reliever Noah Russo struck out junior catcher Ryan Buchler (Schererville, Ind./South Suburban CC) with runners at first and second to end the game.
Buske led SXU at the plate finishing 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored, while Christy went 1-for-4 with a run. Quigley (8-5) took the loss going eight innings and allowing nine hits and six runs, five of which were earned. He also struck out two and walked five. Sophomore reliever Shane Longest (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington) allowed one hit in his inning of work.
Saint Xavier (33-26 overall) will now face the loser of Lewis-Clark State (42-7) and Lubbock Christian (47-15) in an elimination game at noon (pacific) on Saturday, May 27. LCSC and Lubbock Christian are scheduled to play in the final game Friday night.View the boxscore and play-by-play from Friday's SXU-Bellevue game.