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HUTCHINSON, Kan. – [BOX SCORE] In a game that offense would rule the day, it was defensive miscues by the No. 3-seeded Tabor (Kan.) that proved to be the deciding factor in game one for Missouri Baptist on Monday. The Spartans clubbed 10 runs home and defeated the Blue Jays in the first round of the Hutchinson Bracket in the 2017 NAIA National Championship Opening Round, 10-5.
Missouri Baptist (42-14) had a difficult assignment in game one, facing a Tabor team that was at or near the top in every major hitting category in the nation.
The Blue Jays plated their first run in the first as AJ Shaw started the offensive production. The Tabor leadoff man reached on a leadoff base hit and scored thanks to Jordan Harris' RBI single moments later to make it 1-0.
Tabor left two runners stranded and looked the part of one of the top hitting teams in the nation. In the bottom-half, however, the Spartans proved they could keep pace.
Aaron Collazo saw just one pitch in his first at-bat of the tournament. The senior second baseman sent a line drive down the left field line, over the wall, to tie the game at one apiece.
As Mike Syrett kept the dangerous Blue Jays lineup relatively off-balance, Missouri Baptist piled-on the runs early. With one out in the bottom of the second, Brandon Schlichtig reached on an error that went through the legs of second baseman Kyle James, which began a two-run inning for the Spartans. Kyle Keck and Aaron Collazo followed with singles and gave the Spartans a 3-1 lead.
Though Tabor tied the game on a solo home run in the third, that was as close as the Blue Jays were able to get. Missouri Baptist sent four runs home in the bottom of the third, aided by two Blue Jays' errors, and made it a 7-2 lead in the blink of an eye.
The big Missouri Baptist inning caused Tabor to head to the bullpen in the third and bring-on Skyer Cohn. The junior, with the exception of one bad inning, stabilized things for the Blue Jays. He finished things off from that point and went five and two-thirds of an inning and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits.
Miles Fore was responsible for all three runs off Cohn. The third baseman homered off the scoreboard in left-center field to extend the lead to 10-2.
Syrett picked-up his eighth win of the season in the effort while Jagger Harjo suffered just his third loss of the season.
Syrett went six innings and allowed five runs on 10 hits with six strikeouts. After an inning of relief from Nick Hynes, Brandon Nunn sealed the deal with two innings of hitless baseball to preserve the win.
Tabor committed four errors in the game as the Spartans picked-up their first win of the 2017 NAIA National Championship Opening Round.
Collazo led the effort on the day with a home run and a single in the game. The Spartan leadoff man reached base three times on the day. Left fielder Kyle Keck also finished with two hits.
Tabor attempted to make the comeback, but with two on and no outs in the eighth, but Austin Rieman made the fielding play of the game for the Spartans. The first baseman made a diving catch on a line drive to his right, got up and threw down to first to double-off the lead runner to stall the momentum after back-to back walks.
With the win, the Spartans will face the winner of the nightcap featuring No. 5-seed Concordia (Neb.) and No. 1-seed Clarke (Iowa). Concordia defeated No. 4-seeded Jamestown (N.D.) earlier in the day to secure a date with the Crusaders in the evening affair.
First pitch for the Spartans on Tuesday is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and free live audio will be carried on the Spartan Digital Network.