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Waldorf slugs out two conference wins over Presentation

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – It was a pair of high-scoring battles for the Waldorf University baseball team, but the Warriors prevailed to sweep Presentation College during Saturday’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) doubleheader.

Waldorf (14-24, 10-4) earned a 14-13 win in 12 innings during the opener and secured a 19-16 victory in the nightcap. With the two wins, the Warriors maintain third place in the conference standings.

“It puts us in a good spot,” Waldorf coach Joe Tautges said. “Those were two big wins, but we need to come out on [Sunday] and finish it.”

The Warriors, who have now surpassed last year’s win total, trailed by as many as six runs during the opener and erased a seven-run deficit in Game 2.

“Finding a way to win is always big,” Tautges said. “The guys stuck with it.”

Mitchell Keeran turned in a monster day, going 5-for-9 with three home runs and seven RBIs. Prior to the twin bill, Tautges told him to relax at the plate on a day where the wind was carrying balls out of the park. It paid off for the freshman from Clear Lake, who leads the team with seven homers and 29 RBIs on the season.

“He struck the ball pretty well,” Tautges said. “It was good to see him finally start driving some baseballs and hopefully, he can continue it [Sunday] because we’re going to have the same conditions.”

The Keeran brothers delivered throughout the day as junior Michael Keeran added eight hits and four RBIs. Three of Michael Keeran‘s hits went for extra bases as he collected a triple and two doubles.

“With the wind blowing out, it was a good day to hit,” Tautges said. “As long as you keep your approach, good things will happen.”

Freshman Garrett Gillen went 4-for-6 with an RBI single for the Warriors in Game 1. Michael Keeran turned in three hits and drove in a run. Mitchell Keeran went deep with two homers and provided four RBIs. Freshman Jimmy Quirk finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs, smashing a solo homer and belting a run-scoring single. Junior Bruce Mau closed out the game with two hits, including an RBI single.

Waldorf produced 17 hits, receiving run-scoring singles from juniors Kellan Mick, Ryan Villarreal and sophomore Eric Mallo. Sophomore Jacob Tedesco contributed a single.

Drew Sanders paced Presentation (13-31, 3-11), going 4-for-7 with a solo homer and two doubles. Albert Castro went 3-for-6 with a double and four RBIs. Lane Hovde finished 3-for-7 with a double and three RBIs. Johnnie Morris collected three hits, providing a double and driving in a run. Anthony Guzman contributed two hits and knocked in a run. Tony Hofman went yard with a three-run blast, helping the Saints in an 18-hit attack.

Junior Tony Manna (1-7) picked up the win, closing out the final two innings. Manna recorded a strikeout, issued two walks and yielded one run on two hits.

Waldorf junior Dave Erickson started on the mound. He struck out two batters, walked three and allowed nine runs on 10 hits in five innings of work.

Junior Dean Mick relieved two and two-thirds innings for the Warriors. He fanned a batter and gave up two hits. Junior Trevor Bauer notched two strikeouts and allowed three runs on three hits in two and one-third innings.

Presentation’s Alex Lunneborg (5-2) was saddled with the loss. He punched out eight batters, walked five and relinquished three runs (two earned) on three hits in the final three and two-thirds innings.

Connor Perry started for the Saints. Perry exited with four strikeouts, two walks and surrendered 10 runs (seven earned) on 11 hits in five innings. Ryan Wolf fanned three batters, walked two and gave up a run on three hits in a three-inning relief appearance.

Presentation built a 5-0 run in the top of the second inning. Guzman singled in the game’s first run, Hovde cracked a two-run single and Castro smacked a two-run double.

Sanders led off the third with a homer, giving the Saints a six-run advantage.

Waldorf erupted for eight runs in its half of the third. Mau hit an RBI single, Mitchell Keeran crushed a three-run blast, Kellan Mick singled in a run, junior Tony Manna and Tedesco scored on an error while Mallo connected for an RBI single as the Warriors claimed an 8-6 lead.

Quirk went deep with a solo homer in the fourth. It was the third long ball of the season for the Woodbury, Minnesota native. Villarreal added a run-scoring single to give Waldorf a four-run cushion.

Presentation pulled to within one run with a three-run fifth. Hovde stroked an RBI double and Castro clubbed a two-run double.

An eighth-inning RBI single from Gillen boosted the Warriors to an 11-9 lead.

The Saints went on top 12-11 in the ninth following a three-run shot from Hofman. Mitchell Keeran answered in the bottom of the ninth, blasting a solo homer to send the game to extra innings.

Presentation owned a 13-12 lead following a run-scoring single from Morris in the 12th. Michael Keeran was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the game in the 12th, and Quirk delivered a walk-off RBI single to lift Waldorf.

Michael Keeran powered the Warriors in the nightcap, going 5-for-5 with four RBIs behind a triple and two doubles. Kellan Mick went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Mitchell Keeran finished 3-for-4 with a two-run homer. Gillen finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs in a performance that included a three-run homer. Tedesco went 3-for-5 with a run-scoring single while Mallo added two hits and three RBIs. Mau also contributed a pair of singles as Waldorf pounded out 23 hits.

Hovde led the Saints, going 3-for-6 with a two-run single. Morris also had three hits and pushed in a run with bases-loaded walk. Hofman and Guzman each went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. CJ Wienhoff hit a solo homer and contributed two RBIs.

Junior Michael Miller (2-0) locked up the win for the Warriors. He walked two batters and allowed four runs (one earned) while scattering five hits in three innings of relief. Miller entered the game in the top of the third with Waldorf trailing 12-8.

“Miller actually gave us a chance to get back in the game and we hit the ball,” Tautges said. “We were fortunate enough to come out on top.”

Bauer recorded his second save of the season, notching two strikeouts and issuing a walk as he nailed down the seventh inning.

Sophomore Adam Kovash started on the hill for the Warriors and was pulled after three innings. He handed out four walks and gave up 12 runs (six earned) on eight hits.

John Giove (1-4) was hit with the loss. He finished with a strikeout, a walk and allowed seven runs on eight hits in one and one-third innings.

Presentation’s starter Jake Bunjovac tallied six strikeouts, four walks and surrendered 12 runs on 13 hits in three and two-thirds innings. Guzman struck out two batters and yielded two hits in the final inning.

The Saints took a quick 2-0 lead in the first as Hofman ripped an RBI single, and Jesse Spangler drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.

Waldorf went in front 5-2 in the second. Mallo drilled a two-run single and Michael Keeran turned it on for a three-run triple, which nearly resulted in an inside-the-park grand slam.

Presentation plated six runs in the third. Guzman provided a two-run single, Josh Youngchild connected on a run-scoring single, Hovde singled in two runs and Hofman was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to push the Saints to an 8-5 advantage.

Gillen tied the game with a three-run shot in the third. It was the first collegiate homer for the second baseman from Blaine, Minnesota.

Presentation powered to a 15-8 lead in the fourth following two hits and two errors. Wienhoff and Morris drew bases-loaded walks. An error allowed Wienhoff and Youngchild to cross home plate. Hofman and Sanders singled in runs while Guzman connected for an RBI sacrifice fly.

The Warriors responded with a four-run fourth. Mitchell Keeran hit it out of the park with a two-run bomb. Tedesco and Mallo laced RBI singles.

A fifth-inning solo homer from Weinhoff rounded out the scoring for the Saints, who held a 16-12 lead.

Waldorf tied the game behind a four-run fifth. Kellan Mick ignited the comeback with a two-run single while senior Ryan McCabe and Gillen followed with RBI singles.

Back-to-back RBI doubles form Michael Keeran and Quirk boosted the Warriors in the seventh. Mallo singled in the final run of another wild finish.

Come-from-behind wins are nothing new for Waldorf, which has shown perseverance while chipping away at large deficits this season.

“It’s tough,” Tautges said. “We’ve done it a couple of times already this year. The guys don’t give up and that’s the thing. Baseball is a crazy game, and you just never know what will happen.”

The Warriors conclude their four-game series with the Saints on Sunday in a 12 p.m. doubleheader. Michael Keeran starts on the mound in Game 1, and Mau has received the nod as the Game 2 starter.

“Hopefully, we get better starts [on Sunday],” Tautges said. “Conditions are going to be the same. Hopefully, we can eliminate some of those free bases with walks and hits by pitches and get a couple of better-pitched games.”