LINCOLN, Ill. – Maranatha Baptist and Lincoln Christian faced off in the NCCAAII Midwest Regionals, in a best of three series with Lincoln Christian defeating the Crusaders narrowly in game one, 2-0 and 7-2 in game two.
Senior pitcher Derek Funkhouser (Paris, Ill.) led the way with a dominating performance from the mound, in a game one defined by a pitcher’s duel.
Funkhouser held Lincoln scoreless, and hitless through three innings, until the fourth, when the Red Lions reached third on a balk, followed by a single RBI for the 1-0 lead.
Senior first baseman Tim Shelp (Independence, Mo.) gave Maranatha their first scoring chance in the bottom of the fourth with a single, and reaching third base before the inning ended on a groundout to third.
In the sixth inning, the Crusaders nearly scored again when freshman shortstop Tim Rogers (Willmar, Minn.), who reached on a fielder’s choice, made it to third base.
With runners in scoring position, Lincoln opted to intentionally walk Shelp, and got sophomore right fielder Caleb Rost (Greenville, S.C.) to groundout, ending the inning.
Each team struggled hitting, as Maranatha held a slim 3-2 edge, while Funkhouser’s lights-out performance included 10 strikeouts, two hits, and two earned runs in seven innings pitched.
Maranatha waited no longer than the first inning of game two, pouncing on the Red Lions with a single RBI from Rost, that scored senior third baseman Garett Ordway (Pensacola, Fla.), for a 1-0 lead.
Lincoln and Maranatha remained scoreless over the next three innings, but the Red Lions poured out five runs in the fifth inning, and added two more in the seventh for a 7-1 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Rost doubled to start the inning, and later scored on an RBI by Funkhouser, but Lincoln would not be denied the Region crown, forcing a double-play to end the game.
Shelp pitched 4.2 innings in the loss, striking out four while allowing two hits and five runs, while Funkhouser came in and pitched 2.1 innings of relief, allowing two runs and striking out one.
Afterwards, three Crusaders, Andy Timblin, Garett Ordway and Tim Shelp were honored to the All-Region Team in what will be their final season of baseball. Each has played four years.
Maranatha moves on to face Northern Athletic Conference opponent, Dominican University, Friday at 12:00 p.m. in Schaumburg, Ill.