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Waldorf battles Mount Mercy in split

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – Battling at the plate, the Waldorf College baseball team came away with a split against Mount Mercy University in Wednesday’s doubleheader.

The Mustangs (8-7) pulled out a 9-6 win in eight innings during the opener while the Warriors (4-14) secured a 7-4 victory in the nightcap.

Waldorf pounded out 19 total hits on the day during its home opener.

“We hit the ball well,” Waldorf coach Joe Tautges said.

Freshman Jimmy Quirk led the Warriors in the opener, going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI single. Junior Ryan Villarreal went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, freshman Mitchell Keeran finished 2-for-4 with a run-scoring single and junior Michael Keeran also added a pair of hits.

Waldorf junior Bruce Mau singled and drove in a run. The Warriors collected 13 hits in the loss, receiving singles from junior Kellan Mick, sophomore Jacob Tedesco and freshman Garrett Gillen.

Devin Holmes powered Mount Mercy, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. The Mustangs cranked out 12 hits. Jimmy Lizarraga and Cody Collender collected two hits apiece, each producing RBI doubles. Cody Williams turned in a 2-for-2 performance and knocked in run.

Michael Hackett (1-0) picked up the win for the Mustangs, giving up three hits in the final two innings of the game. Cale Henke started on the mound. Henke struck out five batters, walked two and allowed six runs on 10 hits in six innings.

Junior Tony Manna (0-5) was hooked with the loss. He finished with one strikeout, a walk and gave up four runs on eight hits while working the final three innings.

Junior Dave Erickson started for Waldorf. Erickson notched five strikeouts, walked four batters and yielded five runs (three earned) as he scattered four hits in five innings.

Mitchell Keeran scored the game’s first run following a wild pitch in the bottom of the first inning.

Mount Mercy claimed a 2-1 lead in the second as Williams pushed in a run on a bunt single and Trey Muilenburg crossed home plate on an error.

Collender doubled in a run in the third to give the Mustangs a two-run cushion.

Villarreal crushed a solo homer in the fourth. It was the second long ball of the season for the Riverside, Calif. native, who has done damage in the batter’s box as of late.

“He had a great day at the plate,” Tautges said. “His outs were good outs, so it’s nice to finally see him starting to swing because he was struggling a little bit at the beginning of the year.”

A three-run sixth boosted Mount Mercy to a 6-2 lead. Collender scored on a passed ball and Holmes capped the inning with a two-run single.

The Warriors rallied, tying the game with four runs in the seventh. Quirk belted an RBI single, sophomore Austin Robbins drew a bases-loaded walk to send home a run, Mau knocked in a run with a groundout and sophomore Eric Mallo scored the tying run following a single from Mitchell Keeran.

“It was nice to see our guys come back when were down a few runs,” Tautges said. “We put some at-bats together and showed some fight to come back and tie the game.”

Waldorf nearly walked off with the win in the seventh, but a hard-hit liner by Villarreal was caught by Muilenburg in right field for the final out.

“We were a foot away from winning the game with Ryan’s line drive down the line,” Tautges said. “The kid made a good play. Ryan had a good approach at the plate. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.”

Five hits and an error led to three runs for the Mustangs in the eighth. Holmes singled in the go-ahead run, Tarran Beasley connected on a RBI single and Lizarraga doubled to drive in the final run.

Freshman Tim Pasiuk paced the Warriors with a two-run homer in the nightcap. Villarreal went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Mau turned in an RBI single while Mitchell Keeran, Quirk and Mallo provided singles.

“It was a great team win,” Tautges said. “I felt like guys went up to the plate with a plan. If you do that, you’re going to be successful.”

Beasley led Mount Mercy with an RBI double. Holmes and Williams each drove in runs while contributing one hit apiece.

Waldorf’s pitching staff limited the Mustangs to five hits. Junior Dean Mick (1-0) scored the win, striking out one batter and walking one while giving up one hit in a one-inning relief appearance.

Sophomore Adam Kovash started on the hill for the Warriors. He issued three walks and allowed three runs on three hits in three and two-thirds innings. Freshman Michael Miller came on to nail down the final out of the fifth inning.

Waldorf senior Trevor Bauer fanned four batters, walked three and relinquished a run on one hit while closing out the final two innings.

“He did a good job,” Tautges said. “I would’ve liked to have seen him throw more strikes and attack the hitters, especially with a four-run lead. He’s got some good stuff. He just needs to go after hitters.”

Brett Malsam (0-2) was tagged with the loss. He exited with three strikeouts and three walks after surrendering five runs (four earned) on five hits in three and one-third innings.

Mount Mercy’s Ryan Flaherty struck out four batters, walked three and gave up two runs (one earned) on one hit in one and two-thirds innings. Adam Marra recorded a strikeout in the seventh inning.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third when Villarreal delivered an RBI single.

Holmes sparked the Mustangs with an RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth, Williams scored on a passed ball and Mount Mercy went on top 3-1 following an RBI double from Beasley.

The Warriors surged to a 7-3 advantage with six runs in the fourth. Quirk got aboard with a one-out single and Pasiuk tied the game as he went yard with a two-run shot. It was the first career homer for the catcher from Roseville, Minn.

“It was good to see some other guys step up, especially Tim in the second game with the two-run home run to tie the game,” Tautges said. “That was huge.”

Mau continued Waldorf’s fourth-inning outburst, scoring on a passed ball. Villarreal added an RBI sac fly and Michael Keeran came home for the final run on a passed ball.

A seventh-inning groundout from Williams knocked in a run to round out Mount Mercy’s scoring.

Despite coming through at the plate, miscues created setbacks for the Warriors at times. Waldorf had a base runner picked off in the opener and committed seven total errors in the twin bill. Limiting mistakes and turning routine plays is a priority for Waldorf moving forward.

“There are still too many things that we shoot ourselves in the foot with that cost us runs,” Tautges said. “Hopefully, everybody starts clicking and we can start making some plays on defense to get some more wins.”

The Warriors aim to build on the win over the Mustangs as they prepare to open North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) play on March 25-26 when they host the Valley City State University (5-14) in a four-game series. Start times for the doubleheaders are 1 p.m. on March 25 and 12 p.m. on March 26.

“It was a great win for us going into conference play next weekend,” Tautges said. “It gives us some time to work on the things we need to improve on.”