After taking a 5-1 lead into the top of the sixth inning, the Freed-Hardeman University Lions gave up six runs over three innings before leading the tying run stranded at third base in a 7-6 loss to the MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) University Pioneers in the opening round of the 2022 NAIA Baseball World Series.
Second-seeded Freed-Hardeman (37-16) fell behind early after a throwing error, the first of six Lion fielding miscues, allowed an unearned run to cross in the top of the second inning.
The MNU (37-16) lead would not last long when FHU took advantage of a pair of gaffes by the Pioneers and saw Christian Presley – reaching on a two-out error – cross home plate after Hunter Beecham’s single into left field. After Mason Libla hit the second two-out knock for a single, a double steal from Libla’s courtesy runner, Adam Smithson, and Beecham allowed the latter to put the Lions ahead 2-1.
Freed-Hardeman struck again in the bottom of the fifth inning after Beecham was hit by a pitch, followed by Kent Rooklin hitting a single through the hole at shortstop. With two men on, Sean Rooney’s single into left field plated Beecham, while Will McCall’s single up the middle plated Rooklin. Now on third, Rooney added the fifth FHU run thanks to Zach Sanders’ sacrifice bunt.
From there, everything began going the Pioneers’ way. A three-run home run in the sixth inning was followed by a solo shot in the sixth. Two fielding errors allowed two more runs to cross in the seventh and eighth innings with MNU leading 7-5 going into the bottom of the ninth.
Another set of errors in the ninth from MNU was coupled with a wild pitch to cement the final score at 7-6.
Connor Creasy (5-3) took the loss in relief of starter Colton Huntt.
Libla and McCall paced the Lion offense, with both collecting two of FHU’s six hits.
Up Next: FHU faced elimination as they took on the #4 seed LSU Alexandria on Tuesday.