Jeff Braun, Sports Information Director
FREMONT – Midland University’s baseball team needed to have a good weekend if it wanted to stay afloat in the GPAC standings, and the Warriors did just that as they took three out of four games from conference opponents on Saturday and Sunday.
The Warriors (14-17, 7-7 GPAC) got back to .500 in conference play after splitting a Saturday doubleheader with Mount Marty and sweeping Hastings on Sunday. It’s the first time this season the Warriors have boasted an even GPAC record.
“We got better this weekend. We made some strides in the right direction,” commented head coach Chad Miller. “There is still a lot of room to go but our players are now responding to the expectations that we, as a coaching staff, have put on them.”
Midland struggled offensively in game one versus Mount Marty as the lone run came on a solo home run for Austin Hamilton in the bottom of the first inning. That run came in response to a run from the Lancers in the top of the inning that was made possible by a Warrior fielding error.
After trading first inning runs, the game went scoreless until the sixth inning. Relievers Steven Boyd and Matt Abdelnour allowed only two hits in the inning, but three walks, an error, and a passed ball aided the Lancer offense as they plated four runs in the inning. The big blow came with two outs as Billy Hancock laced a three-RBI double to left field, adding insurance runs onto the Lancers’ lead.
Boyd didn’t allow a hit but was saddled with a tough loss after 0.2 of an inning and no hits. Blake Svoboda earned the win after 5.1 innings, while Nick Iossi earned a five-out save.
Midland woke the bats up in game two and managed just enough runs to edge out the Lancers 6-5 to earn a split.
Mount Marty scored first with two runs in the top of the third inning, and the Warriors got one back in the bottom half as Abdelnour doubled home Sam Braun.
The Warriors came alive in the fifth inning and took a 6-2 leads thanks to five run on five hits in the frame. James Kaiser led off the inning with a double and was followed by a Darius Johnson home run, the junior’s second of the season.
Later in the inning, it was Jack Barrios who emptied the bases with a three-run homer, his second of the year. His homer plated Braun and Hamilton after each of them singled their way on base.
The Warriors were held scoreless for the rest of the game and did just enough to hang on for the win after the Lancers scored one run in the fifth and two in the eighth. The Lancers plated two runs in the eighth but left the tying run stranded at first base.
Senior Andrew Snook went 7.0 innings and earned the win for the Warriors, improving his record to 4-2 after allowing just three earned runs and striking out four Lancer hitters. Senior Daylon Owen earned his first save of the year after pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
On Sunday the Warriors faced off with Hastings and earned a sweep of the in-state rivals.
Midland’s offense started early in game one as Kaiser brought Hamilton home on a sacrifice fly in the first inning.
The fourth inning saw both teams plate three runs after a series of strange plays. The Broncos scored three runs on four hits but left the bases loaded in the top half after a sliding play from Hamilton at first saved at least two more runs from scoring.
Midland got all three runs back in the bottom half, also on four hits. Hamilton’s two-RBI single to right allowed Midland to retake the lead and it also chased Hastings starter Grant Svec from the game.
The Warriors added another run in the fifth when Johnson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and then showed off some power in the sixth. Hamilton and Abdelnour launched back-to-back solo home runs to lead off the inning before Gabe Settles followed suit with a solo shot of his own later in the inning.
Johnson added another RBI later in the inning on a base hit to left and the Warriors hit their way to a 9-5 victory in game one. Hastings tried to rally but only managed one run apiece in the final two innings. Luke Egging earned the win after just 1.2 innings but improved his record to 2-1.
Hastings struck first in game one as Cam Brichacek led off the game with a solo home run to right field. The Broncos would plate one run on each of the first three innings of the game on Brichacek’s homer and base hits from Logan O’Neill and Dylan Fitzgerald.
The Warriors kept hitting too and scored one run in the second inning on an RBI groundout from Settles. In the third, it was Abdelnour again that launched another home run, this time to straight-away center field, scoring Hamilton and Johnson to put Midland ahead 4-3.
Midland added two more runs, one in the fifth and one in the eighth, to secure a 6-3 win as a doubleheader sweep. Relief pitcher Aaron Hassell earned the win and improved to 1-1 while Steven Boyd earned a nine-out save, his first of the year.
The sweep helps the Warriors get back on track after a difficult start to conference play. Midland hopes the offense will continue to improve like it did as the weekend moved on, which will set the Warriors up for more success moving forward.
Midland hosts the Concordia Bulldogs (20-10, 14-0 GPAC) on Tuesday, April 9, in a doubleheader that was originally scheduled for March 17. First pitch of game one is set for 4:00 p.m.