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Bruin baseball gears for test against finest in NAIA

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An early-season trip to the site of a championship game is not uncommon in sports. But playing six games in six days at the site is.

Bellevue University Baseball Coach Mike Evans will take his team to Lewiston, Idaho, today for a six-game stretch against one of the NAIA’s top teams. Lewis-Clark State, ranked first in College Baseball magazine and second in Baseball America, is the defending national champion and one of the two teams that beat Bellevue in last season’s NAIA World Series.

The Warriors have won the national championship four of the past five years.

“It’s a good way to find out how far we have to go,” Evans said. “We’ll find out how we rank with one of the top teams in the nation.”

The Bruins, ranked fourth and fifth, have already shown they belong with the nation’s elite. A 7-6 win over first- and second-ranked Oklahoma City has been part of a hot streak for Bellevue. Winners of 10 of their past 11 games, the Bruins look poised to make it to the NAIA World Series for the ninth time in 10 years.

Lewiston is to the NAIA what Omaha is to Division I college baseball, not just a destination but also a fascination. And Evans knows just how much these games will mean to folks around town.

“It’s pretty intimidating going in there,” he said. “They’ll pack the house every night, which makes things even more exciting. It’s like a little Omaha.”

Sophomore pitchers Will MacHolmes and Ron Madej have led the Bruins on the hill. MacHolmes is 3-1 and getting the attention of professional scouts. Madej, a Bryan High graduate, is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA.

Evans believes his bunch, which hasn’t had a single outdoor practice yet, will only get better as the season progresses. The Bruins returned 14 players this season, and Evans said they’re much stronger defensively.

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