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UPLAND, Ind. – For the second straight season, the Spring Arbor University baseball team captured the Crossroads League Tournament championship, defeating Mount Vernon Nazarene University 11-1 on Wednesday night at Winterholter Field on the campus of Taylor University.

Sophomore pitcher Robert Cleary was spectacular on the hill for the third-seeded Cougars, tossing eight shutout innings against top-seeded MVNU. Cleary, making his second appearance of the day after closing out SAU’s 6-3 win over Huntington University earlier in the afternoon, limited the conference’s top offensive team to just seven hits and one run while fanning seven.

Mount Vernon Nazarene (37-10) threatened early on, putting a pair of runners on base in each of the first three innings. However, Cleary would use his defense, including a couple of slick backhanded stops by shortstop Nick Harris, to escape the jams and keep MVNU off the scoreboard.

In the home half of the second inning, Spring Arbor got the scoring started when Tyler Baker, who singled to lead off the frame, crossed the plate on a groundout by Harris.

The Cougars took complete control of the game, though, after plating seven runs over the next three innings. Jonathan Newman ripped a two-RBI double in the third, and Chris Wegrzyn and JP Maracani had key RBI singles in the fourth. In the fifth inning, Mitchel Patterson smacked one of his four hits on the day into right field allowing Harris to score.

Meanwhile, Cleary had settled in and held MVNU hitless for five straight innings, retiring 11 batters in a row at one point.

Spring Arbor would tally three more runs in the seventh, two coming on a two-out single by Baker, to extend its lead to 11-0.

Following a leadoff home run by MVNU’s Jake Dickerson, Drew Weston would come out of the bullpen and close out the game for the Cougars.

Patterson finished a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored and an RBI. Baker and Wegrzyn collected two hits apiece while Newman recorded four RBIs.

Spring Arbor (30-16) had already clinched one of the conference’s two automatic berths into the NAIA National Championship Opening Round by advancing to the tournament finals. MVNU secured the second by winning the league’s regular season title. Both teams will learn their Opening Round assignments when the tournament seeding and pairings are announced on Friday, May 8 at 7 p.m. EST by the national office.

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