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Nine Tiger baseball players earn all-GPAC honors

Kyle Larson got the job done on the mound for the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team.

The senior left-hander was 6-1 on the season and led the Tigers to a runner-up finish at the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament over the weekend in Mitchell.

For his solid season, Larson, a native of Red Lake Falls, Minn., was named to the all-GPAC first team, which was announced Monday afternoon. Eight other Tigers were given all-GPAC honors.

"He is a guy who competes," DWU baseball coach Steve Gust said, adding Larson was 10-2 over the last two seasons. "He was a guy that you wanted him to pitch in the big games and he usually pulled through."

In his senior season, Larson had a 2.22 earned run average and threw two complete-games, including one shutout. He led the Tigers with 45 strikeouts and finished sixth in the GPAC in ERA and fourth with seven hits per game. In his two-year career at DWU, he threw 121 innings and struck out 85 batters.

This was Larson's second all-conference accolade.

DWU players who earned second-team honors were Ben Spitznagel and Ben Ladner.

Spitznagel, a shortstop from Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of three freshman named to the GPAC first or second teams. He led the team and was seventh in the conference with a .375 batting average and had team-high 69 hits, 32 RBIs, 10 doubles and four triples. Ladner, a junior catcher, led the Tigers with 12 doubles and had a team-best 37 RBIs.

Cole Wenande, Jonah Johnson, Hared Neilan, Wes Snyder, Kevin Hatcher and Sam Schumacher were honorable mention selections. Wenande, an Alexandria native and sophomore second baseman, recorded 87 putouts and 122 assists with a .921 fielding percentage on defense. He batted .284 for DWU on 48 hits, including five doubles, four triples and added 34 RBIs.

The Tigers finished the season 27-24 overall and finished fourth in the GPAC. DWU loses seven seniors to graduation and six of DWU's nine all-GPAC players return for the 2015 season.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.