DWU baseball splits final regular-season series
By JAMES D. CIMBUREK
YANKTON — Saturday’s Great Plains Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader with Mount Marty was exactly what Dakota Wesleyan head coach Steve Gust likes to see at this point in the season, with one exception: It wasn’t a sweep.
DWU rallied for two runs in the eighth to win the opener 3-1, but MMC scored in the bottom of the seventh to take the nightcap 3-2 in a doubleheader held at Yankton’s Riverside Field.
“It was clean baseball, what we want to see this time of the year,” said Gust, whose Tigers will take a 24-22 record and the fifth seed into the GPAC Post-Season Tournament, beginning May 1 in Mitchell. “Give them credit in game two. Give us credit in game one.”
DWU needed just three hits in the opener thanks to a strong eight-inning effort by Tiger ace Kyle Larson, who struck out seven and allowed seven hits.
The Tigers got on the board in the top of the first. Jonah Johnson got a one-out single and scored from second on Neil Nagle’s two-out single. MMC got the run back in the fourth on a RBI groundout by Michael O’Connell.
DWU had just one baserunner from the third inning through the seventh, when Dylan Oberembt reached on an error in the fifth. When Ben Spitznagel was hit by a pitch in the eighth, the Tigers pounced. Jonah Johnson hit a triple to the right field corner to plate the go-ahead run, then scored on an error to give DWU its two-run victory.
Derrik Nelson had three hits and Bryton Carlson two hits for MMC in the opener. Derek Blumenstock and Tyler Edler had the others.
MMC’s Alex Mogensen took the loss, allowing three runs, two earned, on three hits in eight innings. Mogensen struck out five.
The Tigers’ game one victory backed MMC into a corner. The Lancers needed a win in the nightcap to secure their own spot in the GPAC Tournament.
O’Connell led the way for MMC with three hits, including a homerun in the game two win.
“That was also a fastball, piped,” he said, referring to a pitch down the middle. “I smashed it to left.”
Cutolo, Miller and Nik Davis had hits for MMC.
Spitznagel and Sam Schumacher each had two hits in the contest for DWU. Jonah Johnson, Nagel, Oberembt and Cole Wenande added hits for the Tigers, who outhit MMC 8-6 in the contest.
That win earned MMC a trip to Mitchell, as DWU hosts the GPAC Tournament beginning on Thursday. The No. 5 seed Tigers play No. 4 Morningside College at noon at Cadwell Park in Mitchell and the No. 7 Lancers (23-21) will face No. 2 Northwestern at 9 a.m. on Drake Field in the opening round.
“We’re pleased to be hosting, but we know that doesn’t guarantee us anything,” Gust said. “We have to play fundamentally sound baseball.”