Orange City, IA
delivered a go-ahead RBI single with one out in the eighth inning and Mitchell Kresnik
pitched a complete-game gem in leading Northwestern to a 2-1 win over Midland in the GPAC Baseball Postseason Championship game played tonight in front of hundreds of boisterous Red Raider fans. Northwestern claimed its third postseason crown (2010 and 2013) and is the first team to win both the regular and postseason titles since the Red Raiders did so in 2013.
Tied at one, the Red Raiders pushed across the winning run in the eighth inning. Reed Smith
led off with a walk against Midland ace Torrey Escamilla (7-3) but was forced out on a fielder's choice bunt attempt by Christian Stekl
, who stayed at first. Michael Callahan
was hit by pitch by closer Billy Brand to advance Stekl to second, who then scored off a Martin single to rightfield. Britton Yoder
, running for Callahan, was thrown out at home trying to score from first on the Martin hit to prevent a run from scoring.
Kresnik finished off Midland in the ninth, giving up a two-out single to Bryan Smith before forcing Brand to fly out to A.J. Nitzshke in right field, beginning a wild celebration on the field among team members and fans alike.
Kresnik was brilliant, improving to 7-2 on the season with his fifth complete game. The senior limited Midland to six hits, five singles and a double, walked three and struck out three, only allowing an unearned run in the first.
The Warriors struck first, plating its only run in the top of the first inning on a walk to leadoff hitter Nolan Luzzi, who advanced to third after an error and scored on a groundout by Matt Abdelnour. From there, both pitchers dominated as Kresnik and Midland starter Daylon Owens did not give up another run until the sixth inning.
Northwestern got to Owens in the bottom of the sixth when Nitzschke led off with triple to the right-centerfield gap and then scored on a RBI groundout by Callahan to tie the game at one. Kresnik sent the Warriors down in order in the seventh but ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth. Justin Trevino and Tanner Bos hit back-to-back singles with one out but Kresnik got Abdelnour into a groundball that Red Raiders third-baseman Ben DeBoer fielded, touched third and threw over to first for a 5-3 double play to end the threat. Northwestern scored the game-winner in the bottom of the inning.
Martin had three of the Red Raiders five hits, going 3-for-3 with an RBI and intentional walk. Zach Rosson and Nitzschke had the other hits for Coach Brian Wede
Owens picked up a no-decision despite limiting Northwestern to three hits and one run in six innings. Trevino and Bos totaled two hits each for the Warrirors, who advance to play in the NAIA Baseball Championship-Opening Round with a 32-20 record.
Northwestern improves to 30-18 and will play in the NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round next week, beginning Monday, May 14 at a site and time to be determined. The NAIA will announce the 45 qualifiers, brackets and sites Thursday at 3pm.
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