Notebook: Top teams not faring well at GPAC tourneyThis year’s Great Plains Athletic Conference baseball tournament has, if nothing else, proved that the league is unpredictable.
This year’s Great Plains Athletic Conference baseball tournament has, if nothing else, proved that the league is unpredictable.
By Friday afternoon, the top two seeds were sent home. The University of Sioux Falls, the No. 2 seed, went two-and-out after losing to No. 7 Hastings and No. 3 Dakota Wesleyan Thursday in the first day of the tournament.
Friday, Mount Marty, the No. 1 seed, bowed out after losing a slugfest to the Tigers in an elimination game.
Friday afternoon, the lone undefeated team remaining was No. 6 Northwestern. The Red Raiders utilized three pitchers — one per game — in their first three games to guarantee themselves a spot in the championship game of the double-elimination tournament.
According to league coaches, that just goes to show that nothing is ever certain in the league.
“Everyone’s got a few guys that can beat you,” Mount Marty coach Andy Bernatow said. “It’s not like anyone ever runs away with the regular season. We didn’t run away with it; it came down to the last game.
“That’s one thing that makes the GPAC is fun to coach in is the parity and competitiveness of it.”
Heading into the second day of the tournament, Northwestern needed just three more runs to break the school record for runs in a season.
The Red Raiders entered the tournament with 338 runs, and added nine Thursday in the first day of the tournament for a total of 347. Friday morning, Northwestern cruised past the school record with a 13-1 win over Morningside.
The Mustangs have also set a few records this tournament. Jared Noteboom, Morningside’s senior second baseman, hit his 17th home run of the season Thursday against Doane College in the Mustangs’ first game of the tournament, breaking the former school record of 16. Jason Engelman set that record last year.
Also for Morningside, head coach Jim Scholten reached a career milestone Thursday afternoon when the Mustangs beat Mount Marty in the winner’s bracket semifinals.
The win was the 600th of his coaching career with the Mustangs. Scholten, in his 27th year at Morningside, is 600-592-4.
The weather was not ideal for baseball Friday afternoon, but it actually turned out to be quite helpful for hitters.
Several times throughout the afternoon, batters were able to take advantage of the 40 mph wind gusts, especially at Drake Field where the wind was blowing from right to left field.
Hitters sent seven hits out of the park during the DWU/Mount Marty game Friday afternoon at Drake, all over the left-field fence. There was also one home run during both the Doane/Hastings and Northwestern/Morningside games at Cadwell Park.