LEWISTON, Idaho - Lee (Tenn.) built an early six-run lead on the way to a 7-3 decision over Oklahoma City University on Monday at Harris Field in the NAIA World Series.
Third-ranked OCU (48-11) will face top-ranked LSU-Shreveport at 5 p.m. CDT Tuesday with the season on the line. Second-ranked Lee (56-9-1) remained unbeaten in the tournament through two games.
Lee put together a 6-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Mike Moore doubled leading off the frame, then Emmanuel Rivera drove in Moore with a two-out double to shallow right.
In the first, Lee jumped ahead 2-0 by taking advantage of two OCU errors. Corey Davis had a two-out RBI single to drive in Max Harvell, running for Jorge Saez, who reached on an error by Stars third baseman Jonathan Sigado. Roberto Reyes scored when Moore hit a pop fly that OCU center fielder Cody Ferrell mishandled.
Lee grew its lead to 5-0 in the second. Rivera scored as OCU second baseman Brian Fisher overthrew first baseman Miguel Beltran on a possible double-play ball. Fisher's error put Saez on second. Blake Barber and Reyes followed with run-scoring base hits.
OCU cut into its deficit with two runs in the fourth. Kale Gaden brought in the Stars' first run with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Beltran. Fisher had drawn a walk to load the bases for Gaden, and Ferrell reached on a walk to fill the bases for Rich Hawkins.
Hawkins grounded a ball to Rivera at short, but Ferrell beat Rivera's throw at second base to score Dane Phillips on the play from third.
Hawkins nailed an RBI single to left-center to slice OCU's deficit to 6-3 in the sixth. Lee scored an insurance run in the eighth when Moore reached home on Rivera's sacrifice bunt.
Patrick Merkling (9-2) held OCU to one earned run on three hits and three walks through seven innings with seven strikeouts. Merkling worked a no-hitter until Beltran's single to right leading off the bottom of the fourth. Joe Fabre and Jose Samayoa kept the Stars to one hit in the final two innings.
Blake Schwartz (11-4) struck out 10 in 7.1 innings, permitting five earned runs on 10 hits and a walk. Schwartz retired 11 batters in a row and 13 of 14 from the third to the seventh. Schwartz struck out the side in the fifth and fanned six out of seven batters during that span.
Hawkins, a senior from Edmond, Okla., drove in two runs for OCU. Blake Barber led Lee with a 3-for-5 performance with a run scored and an RBI.
Game 16: TBD, 5 p.m.