FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s baseball team earned a split on Saturday in a late-night doubleheader to put a cap on an up and down 2019 regular season after dropping both games of a doubleheader on Friday.
The Warriors (23-23, 16-12 GPAC) fell in both games to the Morningside Mustangs (25-16, 13-12 GPAC) on Friday and dropped game one to the Dakota Wesleyan Tigers (21-20, 15-11 GPAC) on Saturday, but followed that up with an impressive 7-1 win thanks to a spectacular pitching performance from sophomore James Scurto.
Midland scored first in Sioux City on Friday as Sam Braun singled home Jack Barrios and later scored on an error, but the Mustangs responded right back as Dylan Gasner hit a two-run home run to right field to tie the game.
Game one remained tied at 2-2 until the sixth inning when Midland starter Andrew Snook ran into trouble. Snook got just one out in the inning and gave way to Luke Egging, but the Mustangs plated six runs on five hits while benefitting from two walks and one Midland error to take a commanding 8-2 lead.
Midland tried to stage a comeback and plated two runs in the top of the seventh on a base hit from Darius Johnson and sacrifice fly from Bryan Smith, but it wasn’t enough as Morningside held on to win 8-4. Mustang starter Aaron Homme went the distance and earned the win as he struck out nine and allowed three earned runs on seven hits.
Game two was a high-scoring affair that saw Midland use five different pitchers after Morningside started fast with two runs in the first inning and one more in the second. Midland got one run back in the third inning before a wild fourth inning blew the gameopen.
Each team plated five runs in their respective halves of the inning to make the score 8-6. Gabe Settles provided a big hit for the Warriors as he plated three runs with a single that got past the Mustangs’ centerfielder. Morningside got all five runs back andmaintained the lead after a long inning.
Camden Parks came on in relief during Midland’s half of the fifth and held the Warriors scoreless for the rest of the game, allowing the Morningside offense to add on to the lead with two runs in the fifth and four more in the seventh, highlighted by two-RBI hits from Levi Davidson and Devin Nielson. The insurance lifted the Mustangs to a 14-6 win and a doubleheader sweep of the Warriors.
Midland came home on Saturday and dropped a competitive game in game one before getting a stellar pitching performance in game two.
James Scurto pitched 8.0 innings in game two and allowed just six hits in the ballgame en route to his fourth win of the season. The sophomore allowed just one earned run as his offense provided him with plenty of insurance.
Midland’s game two win brought the Warriors back to .500 on the season after hovering around that mark for much of the latter half of the schedule.
Offense was missing in game one as the Warriors fell behind early after the Tigers used a pair of two-out base hits to plate Drew DeMers in the first inning. The Warriors got the run back in the bottom of the second as Brendon Jones reached on an error and later scored on a fielder’s choice, but Dakota Wesleyan responded right back.
The Tigers plated three runs on three hits and one Midland throwing error to take a 4-1 lead in the third inning. The big blow of the inning was a two-RBI triple from DeMers that ran deep into the right field corner.
That was all the insurance that Dominique Boerger needed as the DWU starter went the distance and allowed just three hits and one unearned run to lift his Tigers to a game one win. Midland starter Daylon Owens also went the full seven innings but was saddled with a loss after allowing four earned runs on seven hits.
Dakota Wesleyan got on the board first again in game two as DeMers scored again on a single from Joseph Hanish. The Tigers would load the bases in the inning, but Scurto got Wes Anderson to fly out lazily to right field to minimize the damage.
Midland’s bats responded after its pitcher got out of a jam and took the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Three consecutive hits plated the runs, with the final hit being a two-RBI double from Gabe Settles. Settles narrowly missed a home run as his ball hit midway up the tall left field fence at Moller Field and was just inches to the left of where the shorter fence begins.
With Scurto on his game, that was all the Warriors needed, but they added some insurance runs for good measure, mostly by way of some power from Matt Abdelnour.
Midland plated three runs in the fifth inning as Bryan Smith scored on a passed ball before Abdelnour launched a two-run home run to centerfield to put Midland up 5-1.
In the next inning, Abdelour homered again, this time to right centerfield. Austin Hamilton preceded both of Abdelnour’s homers with hits of his own and scored on both long balls.
Abdelnour’s two homer performance brings his season total to nine, earning him a share of first place in the GPAC home run race with Northwestern’s Drew Schutt with just one day left in the regular season.
Scurto was pulled after the eighth inning in favor of Brendon Jones who shut the Tigers down to help the Warriors finish the regular season with a win.
Next, the Warriors set their sights on the GPAC Postseason Tournament which runs Thursday May 2 through Saturday May 4. Midland will be the No. 3-seed and will face 6-seed Northwestern (21-23, 15-13) at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 2. They are joined in the four-team double-elimination bracket by 2-seed Jamestown (31-16, 19-9) and 7-seed Morningside (26-17, 14-13). Games will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Jamestown, North Dakota at Jack Brown Stadium.