Sizzling down the stretch: DWU takes hot streak into the final weekend of regular season
The Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team appears to have hit its stride at the right time. With four games left in the regular season, the Tigers have won eight of their last 10 games. They also had a six-game Great Plains Athletic Conference...
The Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team appears to have hit its stride at the right time.
With four games left in the regular season, the Tigers have won eight of their last 10 games. They also had a six-game Great Plains Athletic Conference winning streak mixed in for the first time since winning the conference tournament in 2015.
DWU sits three games back of Jamestown for second place and a chance to host its half of the GPAC tournament bracket, although the race has gotten crowded. Six teams are separated by six games or less, while, Concordia stands alone atop the heap with a 20-4 conference record and a three-game lead for first place.
"It's just a close conference," DWU head coach John Greicar said. "Concordia is having a nice year and Jamestown, as well, but it's a dogfight from second to eighth or ninth."
DWU has recorded at least eight runs in seven of its eight wins during the streak and now have six players hitting .300 or better, including shortstop Wes Anderson, who is hitting .415 in conference play. He also has 16 hits and 15 of his GPAC-leading 25 runs in the last 10 games.
But the Tigers still do not rank in the top half of the conference in batting average or RBIs, similar to the 2015 campaign. Instead, they rely on strong starting pitching and a defense that does not make mistakes often.
Dominique Boerger leads the GPAC with 2.04 earned run average, while Gunnar Johnson is second in opposing batting average (.200) and third in ERA (2.79). Meanwhile, catcher Kyle Bailey has not committed an error in 177 chances for a defense that is second in the conference with a .962 fielding percentage.
"There's similarities to all of our teams," Greicar said. "I think people think of DWU baseball as being known for doing the little things at times. This team is starting to do that. The things that we do, we do them pretty well. The guys just have a lot of confidence. They're getting used to having success and that's helping."
Entering last weekend's four-game set with Doane at Drake Field, DWU was two games behind Jamestown in the standings. The Tiger offense went cold and Doane stole the first two games before DWU finished the weekend strong with a sweep on Senior Day.
Jamestown simultaneously took three out of four games against Morningside to pad its lead, while Midland and Mount Marty vaulted ahead of DWU by one game in the standings.
A doubleheader at Midland on Saturday and a doubleheader at Morningside on Sunday remain crucial for seeding in the GPAC tournament. Even if the Tigers can't make up enough ground to take second, a third-place finish would delay any potential showdown with Concordia until the finals. The Bulldogs swept DWU in three games this year by a total score of 37-7.
"We have to stay the course and control what we can control," Greicar said. "We have to continue to play good baseball and the results will take care of themselves. We're just trying to stay focused on what we need to do to win. Taking care of business is all we're trying to do."