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KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Missouri Baptist began its NAIA National Championship Opening Round in fine fashion. The Spartans, aided by a four-run third inning, won the first game of the Kingsport Bracket against No. 2-seed Point Park 13-6.
Missouri Baptist (32-11) put seven runs on the board in the first four innings prior to a 50 minute delay due to lightning. After play resumed, the Pioneers continued to find its way back into the game. Point Park recorded one run in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, before putting together a two-run seventh. Those runs, however, would be the last that the team from Pennsylvania put on the board.
Pioneer left fielder Rob Novia went 2-3 in the game with two RBI while third baseman Jordan Crowell drove in three runs and went 2-4 in the game. Crowell currently leads the NAIA in batting with a .437 average.
The Spartans collected 14 hits through six innings, including a Dan Harper homerun in the top of the fifth. Missouri Baptist ended the day with 20 hits.
MBU batters found much success in the tournament opener. Eight of the nine starters recorded at least one hit in the game. The combined efforts of Dan Harper and Pier Olivier-Dostaler led the offense. All totaled, the pair went 7-11 with four RBI to their credit. As a team, Missouri Baptist hit .476 against Pioneer pitching.
"We haven't played in a week and a half, so I was happy we hit as well as we did today," said Spartan Head Coach Eddie Uschold.
Spartan starter Ethan Gibbons surrendered six runs and walked five batters, but struck out eight batters in the game. The six runs were the most the righty has given-up in one outing this season. Ultimately, however, Gibbons was good when he needed to be and kept the No. 1 hitting team in the NAIA to six runs on nine hits.
"Today was one of those funny days where we had to stop and start," said Uschold. "Gibby didn't have his best stuff, but he kept us in it and didn't give-up the big inning."
Missouri Baptist will now advance to the semifinal of the winner's bracket and will play the winner of Thursday evening's game featuring No. 1-seed Tennessee Wesleyan and the No. 4-seed Taylor University. Friday's game is slated for a 1:30 p.m. first pitch.