Solem's walk-off homer leads leads DWUAfter giving up a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning, the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team failed to score a run in the bottom of the inning or the seventh to end the game in seven innings. But after holding Southwest Minnesota State scoreless in the top of the eighth inning, Casey Solem stepped up to the plate for the Tigers and hit a walk-off home run over the right field fence to give DWU a 5-4 win in the nightcap Wednesday night at Drake Field.
After giving up a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning, the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team failed to score a run in the bottom of the inning or the seventh to end the game in seven innings.
But after holding Southwest Minnesota State scoreless in the top of the eighth inning, Casey Solem stepped up to the plate for the Tigers and hit a walk-off home run over the right field fence to give DWU a 5-4 win in the nightcap Wednesday night at Drake Field.
The win gave the Tigers a split against SMSU, which won the first game 10-3.
“You want your best hitters up in crucial situations,” DWU coach Steve Gust said. “We knew he was going to do well if he stayed patient, and he got the pitch he wanted right away and that’s what he’ll do with the ball.”
DWU held a 4-2 lead up until the top of the sixth inning when Mark Hanson walked, Derick Swenson singled and Cody Curry walked to load the bases.
Thomas Pickett relieved Matt Luckey on the mound, and hit Andrew Kinney with a pitch to score Hanson. Matt Bauer flied out to centerfield, but Swenson scored to tie the game at 4.
The Tigers had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh when John Greicar singled and appeared to steal second, but the umpires called Greicar out on batter interference on Clayton Grimstad.
But Nick Capucilli struck out the first two SMSU batters of the eighth inning and got a third to fly out to the shortstop to end the inning and set up Solem’s homer.
“That’s baseball,” Gust said of the interference call. “Whether it was wrong or right, that’s debatable, but good teams overcome whatever’s thrown their way. We kept our composure and did what we had to do to win.”
The Mustangs got an early 2-0 lead when Kinney hit a two-run homer, but Solem had an RBI single in the first inning and Nick Loera doubled and later scored in the second to tie the game.
Dakota Wesleyan grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fifth when Colin Hacker was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a double by Mario Mendoza and scored on a groundout by Jeff Sanchez, and pushed the lead to 4-2 when Grimstad scored on a Shaun Petersen single in the sixth.
Capucilli earned the win for the Tigers. Eric Boldan started and gave up two runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. Matt Luckey gave up two runs on a hit in 0.2 innings and Thomas Pickett threw 1.2 innings.
Solem finished the game 2-for-2 with a run, two RBIs and a walk. Grimstad scored two runs and Sanchez and Greicar each had an RBI.
In the first game of the night, SMSU scored three first-inning runs to pull ahead early, but the Tigers scored three runs on a two-out rally to tie the game. Grimstad singled and scored, John Chaisson walked and scored and Solem scored on a two-run double by Hacker.
But Swenson hit a two-run homer to start a six-run rally in the sixth for the Mustangs and Curry added a solo home run in the seventh for the final score.
“They’re a good ball club,” Gust said. “If you give a good ball club opportunities, they’ll take advantage, and that’s what they did the first game.”
Capucilli took the loss in relief after giving up three runs and recording a single out. Tyler Earls started and gave up three runs on 10 hits.
Mendoza was 2-for-3, Hacker was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Solem was 1-for-1 with a walk and an RBI.
Dakota Wesleyan is now 11-8 and opens Great Plains Athletic Conference play Saturday with a doubleheader at Doane College. Sunday, DWU plays a doubleheader at Midland Lutheran.
The Tigers are back at home April 2 when they host Dordt College.
“Wins and losses aren’t the thing this time of year,” Gust said. “You want to play well going into conference. We had a little bit of everything that second game and overcame it and got a big ‘W.’ ”