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DWU baseball team to make home debut on Saturday

Starting Saturday, the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team will be making quite the homestand. The Tigers will host Briar Cliff and Midland University on Saturday and Sunday in their first home contests of the season. Saturday's doubleheader...

Starting Saturday, the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team will be making quite the homestand.

The Tigers will host Briar Cliff and Midland University on Saturday and Sunday in their first home contests of the season.

Saturday's doubleheader will be the first of 26 games to close out the regular season, including 16 games at home. The Tigers went 7-14 on the road to start the season.

"We went through a tough stretch there on the road, but we had fun," DWU baseball coach John Greicar said. "We didn't necessarily come out of there with the wins, but we competed our brains out. We asked a lot of our guys and they really stepped up in terms of being able to compete day in and day out."

And as the Tigers are making their home debut on Saturday, the Great Plains Athletic Conference is also debuting a new schedule format. The GPAC is playing a 28-game conference schedule this season, up from the traditional 20 games. The games will be played in four-game weekend series and doubleheaders.

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"It has made every game just that much more important, those early games that we can get in and get the experience," Greicar said about the new schedule. "Because going from 20 to 28 games, it changes everything. It changes your pitching staff."

Greicar said the Tigers are still working out the kinks in the early part of the season.

"Offensively, we started a little slow hitting the ball consistently," Greicar said. "That is just something we are trying to obviously fix and we are working on, but just pretty typical stuff right now. We have got to win the close games. We have lost quite a few one-run ball games."

The Tigers are receiving contributions from a number of players at the plate. Tramane Moore is batting a league-leading .424 and has driven in 13 runs, while Jared Neilan is hitting .273 with 19 RBI. Branden Oropeza is coming off a 4-for-4 day against Hastings College and is hitting .290. Tyler Waddle is batting .339.

The Tigers are hitting .276 as a team, which is second-to-last in the 10-team GPAC. Greicar said the pitching and hitting are also trying to complement each other.

"If we are not hitting, we are pitching it well," he said. "If we are not pitching, we are hitting it well. We are just trying to piece it all together right now."

Senior Patrick Whetham has a 4.13 ERA and has struck out a team-high 18 batters.

"He has been doing everything we've asked," Greicar said about the right-hander. "He gives us a chance to win every time. I feel he is one of the best pitchers in the conference."

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