Morningside will play for the GPAC Post-Season Baseball Tournament Championship with a national tournament berth on the line. Photo / Gene Knudsen
Morningside advanced to the GPAC Baseball Post-Season Tournament Championship Game after it spanked Briar Cliff 9-4 in Saturday’s final of the Briar Cliff Bracket to move within one victory of a berth in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.
The Mustangs will play for a national tournament berth when they face GPAC regular season champion Midland in the GPAC Tournament Championship Game slated for Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Fremont, Neb. Midland came out of its own double-elimination bracket when it defeated Concordia twice on Saturday.
The win against Briar Cliff improved the Mustangs’ record to 42-14 to tie a school record for most wins in a season previously set in a 42-18-1 campaign in 2005.
Nathan DeChaine had another big game to lead the Mustangs to victory against their city rival. DeChaine blasted two home runs and accounted for five RBIs to give him four home runs and 12 RBIs in the Mustangs’ three victories in the Briar Cliff Bracket.
Cole Halgerson also homered in the Mustangs’ victory, while Jacob Lamoreux went four-for-five to hike his school-record total to 229 career hits.
Morningside took the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning when Lamoreux singled, advanced to third on the combination of a stolen base and a throwing error by the catcher, and scored on a ground out by Nolan Hoff to break a 1-1 tie.
The Mustangs padded their lead to 3-1 when DeChaine led off the fourth inning with a home run and went up 6-1 when DeChaine unloaded a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
Briar Cliff’s best threat came in the top of the sixth inning. The Chargers scored three times to close within 6-4 and had the bases loaded when Lucas Henning relieved Mustang starter Richard Mitchell and retired Joshua Penrod on an infield popup to end the inning.
Morningside answered with a three-run outburst of its own in the bottom of the sixth to put the Chargers away. Cole Halgerson started the action with a leadoff home run and two more runs came home later in the inning on a Briar Cliff error.
Lamoreux paced a 10-hit Morningside offensive attack with his four singles. DeChaine also had a multiple hit performance with his two home runs. The Mustangs’ other hits were a home run by Halgerson and singles by Hoff, Blake Rogers, and Cole Chapin.
Mitchell allowed four runs, only two of them earned, on six hits over the first 5.2 innings to get the win. Mitchell walked two and struck out four.
Henning earned a save with a 3.1-inning scoreless relief stint in which he allowed only one hit and didn’t walk a batter. He struck out one.