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Briar Cliff tops Waldorf in sweep

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By: Matt Oliver

TUCSON, Ariz. – Briar Cliff University completed the sweep over the Waldorf College baseball team, winning by scores of 11-4 and 4-3 during the Tucson Invitational on Monday.

Receiving two quality starts on the mound wasn’t enough for the Warriors (2-8) to keep pace with the Chargers (6-9).

“We got good starts in both games,” Waldorf coach Joe Tautges said. “We just couldn’t make plays when we needed to.”

Thirteen hits propelled Briar Cliff in the opener.

Freshman Jimmy Quirk connected for an RBI single and went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Warriors while junior Michael Keeran also added a pair of singles. Junior Ryan Villarreal smashed a three-run home run.

Junior Kellan Mick, freshmen Garrett Gillen and Tim Pasiuk turned in singles as Waldorf collected eight hits.

Darrell Wilson led the Chargers, going 4-for-4 with an RBI single. Maurice Handcox, Jr. went 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, Ryan Welsh connected for a two-run single and Scott Morton delivered an RBI single.

Joshua Penrod doubled for Briar Cliff, which also received singles form Chase Hernandez, Jake Erichsen and Zayne Mowen. Alex Colegrove finished with two RBIs and Austin Kopacz drove in a run.

Briar Cliff’s Kalani Omoto (1-2) secured the win, issuing two walks and giving up two hits in three innings. Omoto took the mound in relief of Patrick Ryan, who notched four strikeouts, issued four walks and allowed four runs on six hits through the first three and two-thirds innings.

Michael Keeran (1-2) was hit with the loss. He struck out three batters, walked one and surrendered nine runs (six earned) on nine hits in four and one-third innings. Freshman Michael Miller yielded two runs (one earned) on four hits in the final one and two-thirds innings.

Three errors also aided the Chargers in the opener. The errors were mental mistakes and resulted on plays that the Warriors are capable of making.

“Hopefully, it gets better as we start playing more,” Tautges said.

Waldorf struck first as Quirk singled to score Michael Keeran in the top of the third inning.

Briar Cliff produced four runs on four hits and an error in its half of the third. Colegrove reached on a fielder’s choice, which allowed Erichsen to score. Welsh singled to send home Colegrove and Handcox, Jr. Kopacz gave the Chargers a 4-1 lead, knocking in a run on a fielder’s choice.

Villarreal tied the game with a three-run blast in the fourth. It was the second homer of the season for the Riverside, Calif. native.

Briar Cliff went in front 7-4 in the bottom of the fourth, plating three runs on two hits and an error. Handcox, Jr. connected for an RBI sacrifice fly, Colegrove got aboard on a fielder’s choice to score Penrod and Wilson drove in a run with a single.

The Chargers pulled away in the fifth as they manufactured four runs behind four hits and an error. Handcox, Jr. ripped a two-run triple. He later scored on an error and Morton singled to knock in the final run.

Waldorf stranded 13 base runners in the loss while Briar Cliff left nine on base.

Villarreal produced an RBI double in Game 2, freshman Mitchell Keeran singled and sophomore Jordan Jewell drove in a run on a groundout.

Hernandez batted 3-for-3 with a pair of run-scoring singles to power a 10-hit attack for the Chargers. Morton turned in a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, which included a double. Jeff Hackenmuller also added two hits.

Welsh finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs, Handcox, Jr. contributed a double and Penrod rounded out Briar Cliff’s hitting effort with a single.

Mowen (1-0) fanned five batters, walked one and earned the win while holding the Warriors hitless during the final three and two-thirds innings. Arik Ward started on the hill and finished with one strikeout and four walks. Ward exited after giving up three runs on two hits in the first three and one-third innings.

Junior Tony Manna (0-3) was dealt the loss. Manna struck out one batter and relinquished four runs on 10 hits in six innings. Senior Trevor Bauer issued one walk while closing out the seventh inning.

Welsh put the Chargers in front with an RBI sac fly in the top of the first.

Villarreal evened the score in Waldorf’s half of the first as he doubled to bring home Mitchell Keeran.

A second-inning groundout from Jewell scored Quirk. Pasiuk later crossed home plate on an error, boosting the Warriors to a 3-1 lead.

Briar Cliff pulled to within one run in the fourth when Morton came home following a two-out single from Hernandez.

Penrod scored the tying run off a fifth-inning single by Welsh. Morton provided the go-ahead run in the sixth as Hernandez delivered his second hit of the game.

Waldorf left four runners on base and the Chargers stranded six. The Warriors ended the first, second and fourth with runners in scoring position.

“We didn’t get the job done,” Tautges said. “We couldn’t make plays when we needed to and couldn’t get guys in when we had opportunities.”

Being fundamentally sound and turning routine plays is a priority for Waldorf moving forward.

“If we’re going to win ball games, we’re going to have to make plays and get the job done,” Tautges said.

The Warriors’ season schedule doesn’t include opponents that can be overlooked and the challenges continue to mount when Waldorf opens North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) play later this month.

“We don’t play any teams that are going to be easy to beat,” Tautges said. “Every game that we play this year is going to be against a tough team and we can’t afford to make mistakes.”

A complete game would provide a boost for the Warriors, who are looking to snap a six-game losing streak.

“We just need to put a couple games together in a row and I think we’ll be fine,” Tautges said. “We’re just looking for that one game to put everything together.”

Waldorf continues the Tucson Invitational on Tuesday, taking on Missouri Valley College (8-8) in a 4 p.m. (MST) twin bill. Juniors Dave Erickson and Bruce Mau will start on the mound for the Warriors, who were swept by the Vikings in a four-game series on Feb. 27-28 at Marshall, Mo.

“They’re playing pretty well right now,” Tautges said. “It’s going to be two tough games for us.”