GLENDALE, Ariz. – Baseball season is underway for Midland University as they traveled to warm and sunny Arizona for a pair of two-game series in Glendale. The Warriors took the field against NCAA Division II Adams State University and fellow NAIA-school (RV) Arizona Christian University.
The first pitch of the season came on Thursday morning against the Grizzlies of ASU with Brendon Jones getting the start. He would go six and a third innings allowing just two runs on six hits. During his time on the mound the Warriors had built a 4-0 lead before a three-run 7th for Adams State.
Midland got things going in the 3rd as Kyle Weber reached on a single then was moved into scoring position by a Kaden Hendrix sacrifice bunt. He would then steal third and later scored as Midland pulled off a double steal with Hunter Holverson taking second and Weber scoring on the throw.
An inning later Weber drove in a run as he singled home Sam Braun to stake a 2-0 lead.
After being kept off the board for an inning the Warriors doubled their output with a pair of runs in the bottom of the 6th. Both runs came to the plate after a Darius Johnson double to left field. Jacob Perez and Hendrix put the Warriors up 4-0 heading into the late innings.
In the 7th the Grizzlies were finally able to claw their way onto the scoreboard. They worked a pair of lead off walks which led to Jones being replaced on the hill by Cameron Harrington.
Both runs would come in to score thanks to a sacrifice fly and then a single to center field. Jones would allow a run of his own as he gave up two more singles to the Grizzlies.
Adams State would even the game in the top of the 8th with another run against Travis Seebaum who came on to start the inning but only recorded a pair of outs. Matt Abdelnour would get the final out of the inning and then work the entire 9th.
In the 9th he gave up three hits while allowing a pair of runs, only one earned, as Adams State earned the comeback win.
Friday’s game was another closely contested affair as Midland played host-school Arizona Christian. The Warriors and Firestorm went back and forth after both holding their counterparts scoreless in the first two innings.
Midland score first in the top of the 3rd when Abdelnour singled home Johnson. ACU would respond with a squeeze play in the bottom of the inning to knot things back up.
In the 4th Midland moved ahead once again as Jones hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Weber. The Firestorm responded with three runs though in the bottom of the inning against starter James Scurto.
Scurto would settle in once again, holding ACU scoreless in the 5th and 6th.
In the 6th Midland’s bats came alive, scoring three runs. Abdelnour and Austin Hamilton each drove in a run with a double and sacrifice fly respectively. Then with Weber at the plate facing a new pitcher, Abdelnour scored from third on a wild pitch.
Things stayed active in the bottom of the inning as ACU was able to drive Scurto from the game after working the bases loaded with a single, an infield error, and a hit by pitch. A double by the next batter would drive in two runs and then a single by the next hitter plated two more. The Warriors would allow one more run before retiring the side.
Scurto’s line for the day included 6.1 innings and 8 earned runs while striking out 2 batters.
He would avoid the loss though as the Warriors’ offense turned it on late scoring five runs over the last two inning for the 10-9 win.
Eathan Secrest, Johnson and Hamilton all drove in a run in the 8th and then Braun drove in a pair of runs in the top of the 9th.
Devyn Cary, who came on in relief of Scurto, would pick up the first win for the Midland staff. He pitched 1.2 innings allowing just one hit. Hendrix earned the save as he pitched a nearly perfect 9th, allowing one hit.
Saturday saw the Warriors square off with the Grizzlies once again. And just like the first time, the game was tightly contested all the way through.
Midland got on the board first with a run in the first thanks to a passed ball that allowed Johnson to score from third. He has led off the game with a single to left field followed by a steal of second base. He moved to third and then scored on passed balls by the Grizzlies catcher.
Gabe Settles would score his first run of the season in the 3rd as Abdelnour drove him in with a single to right with the hit and run on.
Adams State would even the score though with two runs of their own in the bottom of the 3rd. They would then take their first lead in the 4th with a single run after holding Midland.
In the 6th Midland would take back the lead with a pair of runs. Braun led off the inning with a walk. Abdelnour then moved him to second with a single and Hamilton drove him in with double. Tyler Seebaum who came into courtesy run for Abdelnour also scored.
Midland would add another in the 8th as Weber scored on a fielding error by the Grizzlies.
In the bottom of the inning Adams State worked a pair of walks and then stole second and third to put both runners in scoring position. They would score the tying runs on a throwing error by the Warriors.
Adams State would equal the output though and send the game into extra innings as they scored two runs on a two-out single to left field.
In extras Midland worked the bases loaded with two outs. Braun had a single to right and then Abdelnour was hit by a pitch and Hamilton followed it up with a walk. They would remain stranded as the Grizzlies popped up the next batter in foul territory for the third out.
ASU would get the winning run on board thanks to a hit by pitch to start the inning. After a pair of strikeouts, with the runner advancing to second with a steal in between, the Grizzlies won the game 10-9 with a walk-off single to center field.
Wickwire, who came on in relief to start the 9th was hit with the loss. He gave up two runs, only one earned though, in 1.1 innings.
In their second game of the day the Warriors took on host Arizona Christian once more. This time around the bats were working as each team scored early and often.
During the first inning Midland put up four runs as Abdelnour, Hamilton, Barrios, and Weber all drove in a runner. Abdelnour and Barrios each had a single to the outfield while Hamilton hit a sacrifice fly and Weber drove in a run while grounding out to shortstop.
The Firestorm would get three runs back in the bottom of the first as they scored on a passed ball and then drove in two more with a triple down the right field line.
In the second Secrest would lead off the inning with a walk. He would come around to score after a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Reier followed by a Johnson single to left.
ACU would even the game with two in the bottom of the inning as worked a two out single followed by a walk, another single, and then a double.
In the 3rd, the Firestorm took the lead after holding Midland scoreless. They plated three runs. They would extend their lead to five with a solo run in the 5th and 6th while also keeping the Warriors at bay.
Midland would break through though in the 7th with a run off a Tyler Foster infield single with the bases loaded. Johnson scored after leading the inning off with a hit by pitch.
Arizona Christian would respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning though.
In the 8th Midland scored two runs. First it was Hendrix coming across home plate after a wild pitch. Then Abdelnour drove in Jones with a single to right field with two outs.
Once again ACU would counter with two runs of their own before closing out the game in the 9th, holding Midland scoreless for the 13-8 win.
It was a pitcher by committee day for the Warriors as five players saw action on the mound. Jacob Perez started the game but didn’t earn a decision as he went just 1.2 innings, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits. Seebaum would go 3 innings and was dealt the loss. He gave up 4 runs, only 1 earned, while facing 14 batters. Harrington, Cary, Hendrix all pitched as well.
Midland (1-3) will be back in action on the road this coming weekend as they go to Joplin, Missouri for four games. They’ll take on William Penn and Culver-Stockton on Saturday, February 15 and then Roosevelt and Columbia on Sunday, February 16.