Morningside outscored Dakota Wesleyan 17-11 in Friday night’s elimination bracket final to stay alive in the Midland Bracket of the GPAC Post-Season Baseball Tournament.
The Mustangs will hope for two victories against host Midland when the two teams meet in Saturday’s 12 p.m. championship game of the double-elimination tourney, with a second game to follow at 3 p.m. if needed.
Morningside (35-21) dropped a 5-4 verdict against Midland in Friday’s winner’s bracket final to set up the Mustangs’ game against Dakota Wesleyan.
Midland starting pitcher Kiefer Musiel shut out the Mustangs on three hits over the first seven innings and took a 5-0 lead into the top of the eighth.
Musiel, who improved his record to 9-1, was unable to record an out in the eighth and was relieved in favor of Dayton Owens after he walked Nolan Hoff and yielded a double to Jacob Lamoreux and a single to Nathan DeChaine to load the bases.
Blake Rogers greeted Owens with a grand slam home run for his 11th homer of the season to pull the Mustangs within 5-4. The Mustangs had the tying runner in scoring position after a one-out double by Cole Chapin before he was left stranded at third base.
Midland reliever Alex Bee retired the Mustangs in order in the top of the ninth for his sixth save.
A third inning sacrifice fly by Cole Gray staked Midland to a 1-0 lead and the Warriors increased their advantage to 2-0 when Bee walked with the bases loaded in the fifth. Midland made it 5-0 with a three-run sixth that featured a leadoff home run by Tanner Bos.
Rogers had a home run and single and Blake Meacham had a pair of singles to combine for four of the Mustangs’ seven hits. The other hits were doubles by Lamoreux and Chapin and a single by DeChaine.
Midland beat the Mustangs’ hottest pitcher in Richard Mitchell, who entered the game with a 5-0 record with a 1.83 earned run average over his last six starts. The Warriors solved the Mustangs’ ace for five runs on 11 hits before he departed with no outs in the sixth.
Morningside and Dakota Wesleyan combined for 31 hits in the loser’s bracket final.
Dakota Wesleyan took an 8-6 lead into the sixth inning before the Mustangs had an eight-run inning to take the lead for good at 14-8. Morningside had six hits in the inning, including a two-run home run by Blake Meacham, a two-run single by DeChaine and a run scoring single by Dylan Mersola.
Meacham’s home run was his second of the game after he had a leadoff blast to start the fifth inning. The Mustangs also had RBI singles from Rogers and Chapin in the fifth.
Meacham finished with two home runs, two singles and three RBIs in four at-bats. Lamoreux had three hits with a double and two singles and DeChaine had three hits. Morningside had two-hit efforts from Rogers with Chapin, who each had a pair of singles.
J.L. Tourville allowed one unearned run on one hit with no walks and four strikeouts in a 1.2-inning relief stint to get the win.