VALLEY CITY, N.D. – Mayville State University capitalized at the plate to top the Waldorf University baseball team in a 14-5 win during Friday's North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Tournament opener.
Eighteen hits propelled the Comets (42-9), who are ranked No. 22 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll.
"We didn't make plays when we needed to in big situations," Waldorf coach Joe Tautges said. "We didn't execute on offense and Mayville State was in a hitter's count most of the game."
Michael Keeran paced the Warriors (18-36) as the senior from Clear Lake went 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Junior Riley MacDonald smacked a two-run double, senior Kellan Mick produced an RBI double and junior Joey Ponder turned in a triple. Sophomore Garrett Gillen and junior Miguel Castro added doubles. Senior Ryan Villarreal and sophomore Jimmy Quirk contributed singles to Waldorf's 10-hit output.
Nathan Walsh led the charge for Mayville State, going 4-for-5 with a solo home run and three RBIs. Jonathan Folena plated a 3-for-5 performance with a double and three RBIs. Dondrei Hubbard also finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Mason Swegarden provided two hits, including a double. Spencer Merle delivered a two-run double.
Kody Rock (9-3) notched the win as he struck out nine batters, walked one and yielded three runs while scattering seven hits in eight innings.
Brandon Kupfer pitched the ninth inning for the Comets and gave up two runs on three hits.
Waldorf senior Tony Manna (2-4) was hooked with the loss. He recorded two strikeouts, issued one walk and allowed four unearned runs on eight hits in five innings.
Four relievers closed out the remainder of the game for the Warriors. Freshman Alex Remy relinquished three runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Junior Adam Kovash gave up one walk and a hit, working one and one-third innings. Junior Eric Mallo issued a walk and surrendered four runs on four hits in one and one-third innings. Freshman Taylor Giving walked two and allowed three runs on two hits in the final two-thirds inning.
The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth inning when Mayville State tallied four runs on four hits and was aided by a throwing error. Hubbard and Jose Guzman ignited the Comets with two-run singles.
Waldorf responded with three runs during its half of the fifth, cutting Mayville State's lead to 4-3. Ponder led off the inning with a triple and scored following a two-out single from Keeran. MacDonald contributed a two-run double.
The Comets tacked on three runs in the sixth as RBI singles from Walsh, Folena and Brady Nygaard extended Mayville State's lead to 7-3.
Walsh went deep with a one-out solo shot during the eighth.
The Comets erupted with a six-run ninth. Merle sparked the big inning with a run-scoring double, Walsh connected for an RBI sacrifice fly, Folena doubled in two runs and Hubbard cracked an RBI single as Mayville State built an 11-run advantage.
Looking to start a two-out rally in the ninth, Castro came on to pinch hit for the Warriors and got aboard with a double. Mick also stepped in as a pinch hitter, following with an RBI double. Keeran singled in Waldorf's final run of the game.
The Warriors continue the NSAA Tournament on Saturday, facing Viterbo University (12-35) in an 11 a.m. elimination game. It'll take a stronger effort for Waldorf to keep its season alive against the V-Hawks, who won three of four games during the regular-season series.
"We need to do a better job of getting ahead of hitters and fixing the other things if we're going to have a chance [on Saturday]," Tautges said.