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Weather strands DWU baseball team in Nebraska Sunday night

On the way back from its spring break trip, the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team found itself stranded in Hebron, Neb., Sunday night because of weather.

When the team's bus stopped on the side of the road to clear ice off its windshield wipers, its wheels got stuck because of ice. After a couple of failed attempts to get the bus back in gear, the team and its coaches were transported to a nearby elementary school in Hebron.

The Tigers spent the night in the town's elementary gymnasium, but DWU baseball coach Steve Gust said his team wasn't the only occupant of the gym. Gust said there were at least 50 other people who were stranded because of weather and roomed in the gymnasium.

"We got a curveball thrown at us and we had to go with the flow," Gust said. "Things like that build character in a team. ... The Red Cross along with the sheriff's department and school's officials really took good care of us, and we are really appreciative of them."

Besides being stranded Sunday night, the trip was otherwise successful for the Tigers, who won eight of their 11 ballgames in Tucson, Ariz.

Three of those eight wins came against Northern State and Minot State, both of which compete at the NCAA Division II level.

The Tigers defeated Northern State twice to open the trip and eked out a 4-3 victory over Minot State to end the road trip.

"We went and played very well and we learned a lot about our team," Gust said. "To go 8-3 on a southern trip is pretty good for a northern team. ... I think our offense was really stellar, we scored a lot of runs in a lot of those games."

In the 11 games played, the DWU offense scored 124 runs and pushed its season record to 10-9.

So far this season, seven hitters in the DWU lineup with at least 50 at-bats are hitting over .330, headlined by Michael Lukkason, who has a team-leading .500 batting average with seven doubles and a .621 slugging percentage.

On the mound, the Tigers are led by Kevin Hatcher, Chris Housley and Matt Mundfrom.

Hatcher has the lowest earned run average on the squad at 3.12, while Housley and Mundfrom are tied for the team lead in wins with two.

"We are playing well on defense at times, and pitching well at times, but the most consistent part of our team is hitting," Gust said. "I am surprised at our offense, but the key to it has been our consistency throughout the lineup. ... I think we are hitting .350 as a team."

The Tigers are scheduled to take the diamond Saturday and Sunday in Sioux Falls in a two-game weekend series with Augustana. The teams play at 2 p.m. both days at Ronken Field at Karras Park.