News Photo
Cameron Baranek led off the Opening Round with a solo shot
Baseball - Mon, May 15, 2017

LIMA, OH – It only took (RV) Hope International four pitches to get a lead over Middle Georgia State, and the Royals would largely remain in command after that in their first appearance in an NAIA Opening Round Bracket. Cameron Baranek opened the ball game with a homer to straightaway center and HIU was able to hold on for a 4-2 win despite some potentially costly errors in the field against the Knights.

Dominic Potlongo got the start and lasted seven innings for HIU and left with a lead after allowing a two-run shot in the third – aside from the one pitch that got away from Potlongo, HIU's staff combined to hold the Knights hitless through the final six innings and scoreless after the third inning. Justin Moulds pitched a perfect eighth and Jonathan Marriott pitched the first out of the ninth before Josh Steele entered to collect a bases-loaded save after producing a double-play ground ball in only three pitches.

After Baranek sent the fourth pitch of the game out over the fence in the top of the first the Knights settled in against the Royals' batters for the next two frames and took the lead from HIU in the third. MGA led briefly after getting a two-run shot off of Potlongo, but the Royals retaliated with two of their own in the fourth.

Jeff Murray singled to start the fourth and took second on a wild pitch before Brandon Gonzalez joined him on the base paths with a walk. A sacrifice bunt by Will Davis moved both runners and Nolan Kraemer singled both of them home for a 3-2 lead after three and a half innings.

The game accelerated through the next five half-frames before the Royals plated the final run of the game in the top of the seventh. Gonzalez singled to center to start the inning, Davis walked, and Sean David Clark loaded the bases with a single into left field before a fielder's choice hit to second by Kraemer plated Gonzalez for the finals score.

Gonzalez put together a string of three straight times reaching base and Baranek just missed hitting for the cycle with a home run, a double, and a single. Potlongo lasted at least seven innings for the second straight start, and the Royals will now advance to the semifinal game against the host team University of Northwestern Ohio despite committing three errors against the Knights.

Coach Erich Pfohl was proud of his team's performance, saying "It's kind of going back to old-school baseball, just see it and hit it." Pfohl continued on to say, "sometimes the better guy gets the best of it, Cam got to their guy early to set the tone and I thought we strung together some good at bats to turn the order over. Dom had his best stuff working, made one mistake [a two-run homer] but otherwise was phenomenal."