FREMONT, Neb. – Any signs of a slow start to conference play are well behind the Midland University baseball team as the Warriors came away with three wins in four games over the weekend, making them winners of seven of their last nine GPAC games.
The Warriors (18-19, 11-9 GPAC) swept a pair of road games on Saturday against the Doane Tigers and earned a split with the University of Jamestown Jimmies on Sunday, improving Midland’s conference mark to 11-9.
Midland and Doane needed a slugfest to decide game one on Saturday, as the Warriors came out on top with a 16-12 victory.
The Warriors used two big innings to get the win as they scored five runs in the second inning and then eight in the seventh to take the lead. Midland entered the seventh inning down 11-8, but tallied eight hits in the final frame to plate their eight runs. Seven of Midland’s eight hits in the inning came in consecutive at bats.
Austin Hamilton, Jack Barrios, and Gabe Settles each had three-hit performances in the game to lead the Midland offense. Hamilton and Barrios each had two RBIs while Settles led all players in game one with four RBIs.
Runs in game two were at a premium as both starting pitchers settled down as the game moved along.
Midland jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a pair of defensive errors from the Tigers. Doane responded shortly thereafter with two runs in the bottom of the second inning, also as a result of a Midland fielding error.
Doane starter Travis Cowan didn’t allow another Midland run until the sixth inning when he surrendered three straight hits to start the top of the inning. James Kaiser tripled to left centerfield to score pinch-runner Edgar Gallardo (after a Matt Abdelnour double) and Barrios to put Midland ahead 4-2 and chase Cowan from the game.
That was all Andrew Snook needed for the Warriors as the senior pitched seven innings and allowed just five hits and one earned run while striking out seven hitters. Snook earned the win to improve to 5-2 on the year. Brendon Jones and Steven Boyd each pitched one inning of relief and each struck out two batters as Boyd was credited with his second save of the year.
The Warriors returned home on Sunday to face off with Jamestown as the two schools met as conference foes for the first time. Game one didn’t disappoint and proved to be a back-and-forth contest.
Jamestown scored two runs in the top of the first inning on a two-RBI double from Lincoln Trujillo, but the Warriors got them right back as Austin Hamilton launched his fourth home run of the year to right centerfield to plate himself and Bryan Smith.
The Jimmies got two more in the top of the second, this time on hits from Grant Okawa and Chase Hacker.
Midland didn’t stay down long and again used some power to get back in the game. This time, it was a three-run shot from Brendon Jones, his first of the year, to put the Warriors in front.
Jamestown tied the game in the fifth inning thanks to a solo home run for Drake Pilot, then sprinted out to a four run lead with four runs in the top of the sixth inning. Three of those runs came on a home run for Hacker. Jamestown would add one more run in the seventh to go up 10-5.
Kaiser would hit a solo home run for Midland in the bottom half, but it was too little too late as the Warriors dropped game one 10-6.
In game two, Jamestown again grabbed a pair of run in the top of the second inning on RBI hits from Tanner Roundy and Trujillo.
Midland got one back as Settled bounced into a fielder’s choice but reached as Kaiser beat the throw to third base, allowing Barrios to score. The teams traded single runs in the third inning thanks to an RBI single from Roundy and a sacrifice fly from Dakota Thornton as Midland trailed 3-2 after the frame.
The Warriors chased Roundy, the Jamestown starter, from the game and took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning thanks to a two-RBI double from Kaiser that came after a single and a walk from Abdelnour and Barrios.
That proved to be game-winning hit for the Warriors as starter Daylon Owens took over the game in the final stages. After a rough start, the senior settled down and delivered one of the best outings of his career.
Owens tossed a complete game and allowed 10 hits and just two walks in his nine innings of work. He surrendered just the three early runs and struck out nine hitters en route to his second win of the season. After the final out, his teammates mobbed him on the mound, showing their appreciation for what their senior leader had just done.
The weekend wins move Midland to 11-9 in conference play as the Warriors currently sit tied with Mount Marty in fifth in the standings. After a rough start, the Warriors are slowly but surely working their way back up to the top of the GPAC standings.
Midland takes a one-game break from conference play with a game on Tuesday, April 16, versus the (RV) Bellevue Bruins (28-14 overall). First pitch from Brown Park in Omaha is set for 4:00 p.m.