SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Midland University’s baseball team was in need of a good weekend as the Warriors head into the final stretch of the season, and they got it by sweeping a four game series on the road.
The Warriors (22-20, 15-9 GPAC) took all four games from the Briar Cliff Chargers (20-23, 10-14 GPAC) on Thursday and Saturday. It marks the first time this season that the Warriors have won four straight games, and it also moves Midland to fourth in the GPAC regular season standings.
On Thursday, the Warriors and Chargers battled back and forth in the doubleheader, but the Warriors came out on top in both games.
In game one, the Warriors grabbed an early run thanks to two hits and an error, but Briar Cliff answered back with two runs in the bottom half on just one hit and three walks.
The Warriors retook the lead with two runs in the top of the third with RBIs from Matt Abdelnour and Dakota Thornton. Briar Cliff got one right back in the bottom half on a Sawyer Olson RBI double, tying the game at 3-3.
Sticking with the trend, Midland got three runs in the top of the fourth and went up 6-3, and Briar Cliff answered with two more runs and pushed the score back to 6-5.
Jacob Perez added some insurance for the Warriors with a two-RBI single in the fifth inning, which proved vital as the Chargers added two more runs in their half of the sixth. Steven Boyd had allowed two runs to cross on three runs, but gave way to Brendon Jones, who managed to get Olson to ground out to third base to end the inning and leave the tying and go-ahead runs stranded.
Jones put Briar Cliff down in order in the seventh as the Warriors held on for an 8-7 win.
Aaron Hassell earned the win after his start lasted 3.1 innings and he allowed four earned runs while Jones was credited with a save.
Game two was going Briar Cliff’s way early as the Chargers scored one run in the first inning and then three in the bottom of the second inning on four hits and two Midland errors.
The Warriors chipped away with one run in each the third and fourth innings, cutting the lead in half at 4-2. In the sixth inning, the Warriors opened up the floodgates and scored three runs to take a 5-4 lead as RBIs came from Thornton and Hunter Holverson. For good measure, the Warriors grabbed three more runs in the sixth inning on five hits as they extended their lead to 8-4.
Again, the Warriors turned to Jones to get the final outs as he replaced starter Andrew Snook after a pair of hits and a walk for the Chargers in the seventh. Jones got two quick outs and again secured the 8-4 win for Midland.
After early struggles, Snook settled in and nearly pitched a complete game. Snook went 6.1 innings and allowed just the four early earned runs while striking out five Chargers batters, earning himself the win as Jones got his second save in as many games.
The Warrior kept the offense going into Saturday’s doubleheader as they grabbed an early lead on three straight hits from Bryan Smith, Austin Hamilton, and Matt Abdelnour to start game three of the series.
Briar Cliff starter Jacob Wesselmann settled in afterwards and held the Warriors scoreless until the fifth inning when the Warriors plated four runs on four hits, highlighted by Abdelnour’s three-run home run, his seventh of the season.
The Warriors grabbed two more runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh to secure an 8-1 win. Briar Cliff managed one run in the sixth, which was all Midland starter James Scurto would allow in his six innings of work. Scurto earned the win and allowed zero earned runs while walking just two and striking out four.
In the final game of the series, the Warriors had to come from behind again as Briar Cliff scored four runs in the first two innings off of Midland starter Daylon Owens. But, just like in game two, the offense picked up and the pitching settled in as the game went on.
Owens held the Chargers scoreless until the sixth inning and the Warriors started to find rhythm at the plate. After an RBI double from Abdelnour in the third, the Warriors exploded for seven runs in the fifth inning to take an 8-4 lead.
Midland started with three straight singles that pushed Briar Cliff starter Harry Jestel from the game. All three of those runs scored as reliever Dylan Speer allowed them to cross as he surrendered three hits and four more earned runs to cross.
The Warriors sent 11 batters to the plate as Hamilton had two singles in the inning, the latter being an RBI that scored Bryan Smith for the seventh run of the frame. Midland tallied six hits in the inning and benefitted from two walks and two Charger errors.
Briar Cliff managed one run in the sixth inning, but Midland added three more in the seventh as Smith added another two-RBI base hit and Hamilton doubled him home in the next at bat.
The Chargers again tried to inch closer with two runs in the bottom of the eighth, but Steven Boyd pitched a clean bottom half of the ninth as Midland swept the road series with an 11-7 win in the finale.
Smith and Hamilton led the way with four hits each and six combined RBIs in the final game on Saturday. Owens earned the win as he tossed six innings and allowed five earned runs, which was enough to get the job done this week with the Warriors swinging hot bats at the plate.
With just two more conference doubleheaders left in the regular season, the Warriors are gearing up for the final stretch as everything appears to be coming together at the right time.
Midland travels back to Sioux City on Friday, April 26 for a doubleheader with Morningside (23-16, 11-12 GPAC) before coming home on Saturday for the home finale versus Dakota Wesleyan (20-19, 14-10 GPAC). First pitch on Friday is set for 1:00 p.m. while game one at Moller Field on Saturday will start at 4:00 p.m.