JACKSON, Miss. – The University of Houston-Victoria Jaguars battled the top-seeded team for eight strong innings Monday night, but Oklahoma Wesleyan tallied twice in the ninth to pull out a 5-3 win on opening day of the Jackson Bracket at the NAIA Baseball National championships Opening Round.
Jeff Butler opened the top of the ninth with an inside-the-park home run and Cody Riley followed with a double that would lead to another run leaving the Jaguars with a 1-1 record on the day. The Jaguars earlier in the day defeated Sterling (Kan.) 5-2.
The Jaguars (24-32) will now face the Sterling-Oklahoma City winner in a 6 p.m. elimination game on Tuesday. Oklahoma City lost to Belhaven earlier in the day 9-8.
OWU (53-6) threatened early on and finally hit paydirt when the Jaguars gave up three unearned runs in the fourth to grab a 3-0 lead.
But the Jaguars came fighting back as Robert Zaragoza walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a ground out by Stephen Shorkey. Brandon Bohanon's grounder, that was misplayed by the OWU shortstop allowed Zaragoza to score to cut the lead to 3-1.
Robert Gleinsers who picked up two of the Jaguars' four hits, helped tie the game in the fifth with a single to center. Ryan Suescun's double moved Gleinser to third, before Blaha's ground out scored Gleinser with the tying run.
The Jaguars got a strong pitching performance Orlando Quiroga in the opener as he limited Sterling to two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out five in eight innings. Andre Del Bosque came on to close out the game for a save in the ninth.
The Jaguars had to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the contest with most of the fireworks happening in a four-run sixth.
Suescun lead off with a double and moved to third on a Blaha single. Kyle Bludau's sacrifice fly plated Suescun. Boothe also came up with an RBI in the inning and Ryan Pearsall sealed the deal with a two-run double.
The Jaguars would add an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Shorkey.