MONTGOMERY, Ill. (naccsports.org) --- Aurora University defeated Concordia University Wisconsin, 7-1, Friday at Jim Schmid Field in the opening game of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) Baseball Tournament Championship Series.
The win gave the 10th-ranked Spartans (36-6) a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series against the Falcons.
Aurora starting pitcher Nick Malmberg allowed singles to two of the first three batters he faced but settled down to face the minimum over the next 5 2/3 innings with a double play in the second inning erasing the only other CUW baserunner he faced until the seventh inning.
The Spartans erupted for four runs in the bottom of the third inning. Corey Vondra led off the frame with a solo homer to right field. Jett Wedekind followed with a single to left, then scored two batters later on a Collin Meinert RBI single. Aurora tacked on two more runs courtesy of a Justin Sartori RBI fielders' choice and an RBI single by Nick Baldassano.
That lead held until the seventh when Dylan White launched a lead-off shot to center field. Meiert drew a walk and scored on a Nick Bermeo fielders' choice. Bermeo then came home on a Sartori RBI double to make it 7-0 Aurora.
Concordia Wisconsin threatened in the seventh as two of the first three batters reached base. The Spartans were able to get out of the inning unscathed, though, as Jared Chesak grounded into an inning-ending double play. After CUW went down in order in the eighth inning, Sean Tillmon broke up Malmberg's shutout bid with a two-out solo home run to right field in the ninth. The next batter - Kyle Kosobucki - flew out to right field to end the game.
Malmberg (9-1) scattered five hits and a walk while striking out six to get the complete-game victory.
The Spartans finished with 10 hits including two each from Vondra and Meinert. Aurora also drew six walks.
CUW starter Tyler Drezek (7-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits, three walks, and one hit batter over five innings.
Tillmon accounted for three of the Falcons' five hits with Johannes Haakenson and Blake Gosswein collecting the others.
The series concludes Saturday with one - possibly two - games at Concordia Wisconsin's Kapco Park in Mequon, Wisconsin. First pitch for the second game of the series is set for 2 p.m. If a third-and-deciding game is necessary, it will take place 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game of the day.
The NACC Tournament champion receives the league's automatic berth in the 2021 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship. The full field and regional assignments will be announced Sunday evening.