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Clarke takes midweek doubleheader from Waldorf

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – Strong pitching performances guided Clarke University to a sweep over the Waldorf University baseball team during Wednesday’s doubleheader.

The Crusaders (19-9) won by scores of 12-1 and 8-0 behind starts from Anthony Ruden and Tanner Lupton, who combined to give up eight hits in the two-game set.

“They were basically the first two guys that we’ve seen all year that were throwing mid- to upper-80s,” Waldorf coach Joe Tautges said. “I told our hitters, we didn’t make adjustments. They were just blowing us up, so that’s one thing that we need to do a better job with.”

Ryan Villarreal led the Warriors (9-21) in the opener, going 2-for-3 with a solo home run. Freshman Mitchell Keeran provided a double and sophomore Jacob Tedesco contributed a single.

Clarke’s Austin Gehl cranked a two-run homer and turned in a triple, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs. Juan Munoz went 2-for-2 with a run-scoring double while Eric Bueno finished 2-for-3 with a double. Nate McMullen and Ryan Siems added two hits apiece. Jacob Blunt singled and closed out the game with three RBIs. Jacob Pavlosky contributed a double for the Crusaders, who pounded out 19 hits.

Ruden (4-2) scored the win as he struck out six batters and scattered three hits in six innings of work. Mike Poteet notched two strikeouts and yielded a run on one hit in the seventh inning.

Junior Tony Manna (0-7) was hit with the loss. He finished with one strikeout and surrendered nine runs on 15 hits in five innings. Freshman Michael Miller fanned three batters, walked one and allowed three runs on four hits as he closed out the final two innings.

Clarke struck first as Stephan Zanoni belted an RBI single in the top of the first inning.

Blunt connected on an RBI sacrifice fly in the second as the Crusaders built a two-run advantage.

Kevin Hunley singled in a run during the third and Munoz smacked an RBI double to give Clarke a 4-0 lead.

Gehl went deep with a two-run blast in the fourth.

Blunt ripped a two-run double in the fifth and Gehl provided a run-scoring single, boosting the Crusaders to a 9-0 advantage.

Clarke tallied three more runs in the seventh following RBI doubles from Tyler Malcook and Lake Rosson, along with a run-scoring single from Matt Stevens.

Villarreal crushed a solo shot in Waldorf’s half of the seventh. The junior from Riverside, Calif. currently leads the team with four homers on the season.

Firing up the offense proved to be a challenge for the Warriors as they struggled to adjust to Clarke’s pitching on a cold and blustery day when wind gusts reached 29 miles per hour.

“We didn’t make many adjustments,” Tautges said. “With the wind blowing in, it’s tough to get anything going. It’s something that we need to figure out how to do.”

Mitchell Keeran paced Waldorf with a double in the nightcap. The Clear Lake native tops the team with 13 doubles on the season.

The Warriors ended the game with five hits, receiving singles from junior Bruce Mau, freshman Garrett Gillen, sophomore Eric Mallo and senior Ryan McCabe.

McMullen led the charge for the Crusaders, going 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Blunt collected a pair of hits and drove in a run. Dylan Kester also had two hits. Zanoni singled and finished with two RBIs while Hunley singled to give Clarke nine hits.

Lupton (5-0) locked up the win. He punched out seven batters, walked one and gave up five hits in six innings. Abraham Rangel issued a walk, pitching the final inning.

Villarreal (0-2) was handed the loss. He recorded three strikeouts, three walks and allowed six runs (three earned) on six hits in five innings.

Waldorf freshman Jimmy Quirk came on to relieve for two innings. He struck out a batter, walked one and yielded two unearned runs on three hits.

Blunt put the Crusaders on the board with a run-scoring single in the second.

A third-inning single from Zanoni knocked in a run. Zanoni advanced to third base on an error following the hit and later scored on a wild pitch to give Clarke an early three-run cushion.

The Crusaders built a 6-0 lead, plating three runs on two hits and two errors in the fifth. McMullen stroked a two-run double and Zanoni delivered an RBI sac fly.

Clarke added two more runs in the sixth. Malcook drove in a run on a sac fly and McMullen singled to bring home the final run of the game.

Facing a tough opponent like the Crusaders presented the Warriors with a test as they prepare to return to North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) play this weekend. Waldorf owns a 5-3 conference record and hosts the University of Winnipeg (5-21, 2-6) in a four-game series on Saturday and Sunday.

“Going into conference against Winnipeg this weekend, the confidence probably isn’t there, but I think we learned some things about ourselves,” Tautges said. “Hopefully, we can fix those before the weekend and get ready to win another conference series.”

The Warriors open the series with Winnipeg on Saturday in a 1 p.m. doubleheader and play the final twin bill on Sunday at 12 p.m. Waldorf is aiming to take it one pitch at a time against the Wesmen, who are coming off a conference split with Valley City State University (11-21, 4-4).

“Their record doesn’t show it, but they’re conference games so they’re always going to be competitive,” Tautges said. “They’re going to be tough games. As long as we do what we can do and take care of business, I think we should be successful.”