Nathan DeChaine became Morningside’s all-time RBI leader while powering the Mustangs to an opening round victory in the GPAC Post-Season Baseball Tournament.
Nathan DeChaine, a junior third baseman from Brainerd, Minn., became the all-time RBI king in Morningside College baseball history when he drove in five runs to lead the Mustangs to a 9-2 victory against Dordt College in Thursday’s first round game in the Midland Bracket of the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Tournament in Fremont, Neb.
DeChaine went three for five with two home runs to power the Mustangs into Friday’s winner’s bracket final and raise his total to 158 career RBIs to break the former Morningside standard of 155 career RBIs set by Jared Noteboom from 2007-10. DeChaine blasted a three-run home run in the seventh inning and added a two-run blast in the eighth.
Morningside won for the 12th time in its last 15 games and will take a 34-20 record into a Friday noon contest against host Midland, which rallied from a 5-3 ninth inning deficit for a walk-off 6-5 first round victory against Dakota Wesleyan.
Aside from the RBI record, DeChaine is closing in on another of Noteboom’s Morningside records. The two home runs against Dordt were the 31st and 32nd circuit clouts of his career to move within four of Noteboom’s school-record total of 36 career home runs.
The GPAC tourney opener was a pitcher’s duel between Morningside’s Lucas Henning and Dordt’s Brandon Fokkema until the Mustangs roughed up the Defenders’ bullpen in the late innings.
Fokkema, who led the Dordt starters with a 2.05 earned run average going into the game, held the Mustangs to one run over the first five innings and left after six innings with his team down 3-1. Fokkema allowed nine hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter in his six-inning stint.
The Mustangs’ Henning was even better as he allowed only one run on three hits before he turned the game over to the bullpen with a 6-1 lead after seven innings. Henning walked two and struck out five while improving his record to 8-3.
Morningside took a1-0 lead on a solo home run by Joe Genoways with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After the Defenders tied the score with a run in the top of the sixth, the Mustangs took the lead for good with two scores in the bottom of the frame on back-to-back home runs by Blake Rogers and Dylan Mersola to start the inning.
The Mustangs broke the game open when DeChaine blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to put the Mustangs in front 6-1. DeChaine’s home run came after a walk by Jacob Lamoreux and a single by Nolan Hoff.
Morningside capped its scoring with three more runs in the eighth when Lamoreux doubled and scored on a single by Hoff that set up a two-run homer by DeChaine.
The Mustangs finished with 15 hits, including three each by DeChaine with two home runs and a single and Lamoreux with a double and two singles. The three hits by Lamoreux extended his hitting streak to eight games. Morningside also had multiple hit efforts from Mersola with a home run and single and Hoff with a pair of singles. Hoff has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games.