TUCSON, Ariz. – Behind a high-powered offense, the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team is finding its rhythm on its spring break trip in Tucson, Ariz. The Tigers are 7-3 with one game left to play on the trip.
Tuesday, Dakota Wesleyan (9-9) used a late comeback to beat Illinois Institute of Technology 13-9. Illinois Tech led 9-7 after six innings, but DWU scored three runs in the seventh and ninth innings to hold on for the win. Michael Lukkason had an RBI single in the seventh and the Tigers scored two runs on an error, and in the ninth Erik Nockleby had a two-run RBI and Cody Silveria had an RBI sac fly. Toby Kaplan, Lukkason and Wenande each had three hits and Tim Cusick, Nockleby and Tyler Johnson each had two. Zac Custer picked up the win after throwing 2.1 innings in relief. He gave up one run on four hits with three strikeouts. Kevin Hatcher threw the first four innings and struck out six.
Wednesday, the Tigers split a pair of games with Peru State University, which is receiving votes in the NAIA. In the first game of the day, Peru won 13-8 after scoring three runs in the third and fourth innings, two in the fifth and four in the sixth. DWU got within two, 9-7, after a three-run fifth, but gave up four runs the next inning. Wenande and Lukkason each had two hits and Cusick had a three-run triple. Lucas Schultz threw the first 2.1 innings and took the loss. He gave up four runs on three hits.
The second game of the day was all the Tigers. DWU went up 3-0 in the first inning and added seven runs in the fourth and three more in the seventh. Cusick had an RBI double, Nockleby sent in a run on a fielder’s choice and Kaplan had an RBI single in the first inning. Cusick had a two-run triple, Nockleby had a two-run double and Kaplan and Silveria both sent in a run in the fourth. Alex Hinz tripled to start the seventh and scored on a single by Tyler Waddle. Lukkason and Cusick also sent in a run.
Cusick went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, Nockleby had two hits and three RBIs and Kaplan and Silveria each sent in two runs. Kyle Larson threw all seven innings and picked up the win. He scattered eight hits over seven innings and gave up one run while striking out two batters.
DWU’s bats were uncharacteristically silent Thursday night when it took on Malone College. The Tigers managed seven hits but lost 12-2. The Tigers’ two runs came in the seventh on an RBI single by Silveria and a sac fly by Sam Schumacher. Cusick had two of DWU’s seven hits. Chris Housley threw the first five innings and took the loss. He gave up five runs on seven hits with two strikeouts. Custer and Kaysen Newman threw the final four innings.
Friday, DWU swept a doubleheader against William Penn University. The Tigers won the first game 12-11 on a walkoff sac fly by Lukkason in the bottom of the seventh, and used more offensive power to win the second game 15-10. In the first game, William Penn took a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but DWU made it 4-3 after three innings. WPU took a 6-3 lead in the fourth, but the Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the inning. DWU took its first lead of the game with a four-run fifth, but William Penn answered with four runs in the sixth. The Tigers scored once in the sixth and seventh to hold on for the win.
Silveria went 4-for-4 with two home runs – including a two-run homer in the second inning. He also had a solo homer and two singles. Kaplan had three hits and Lukkason finished with two hits and three RBIs. Neil Nagle singled to start the seventh inning, and Jonah Johnson – pinch running for Nagle – advanced to second on a wild pitch and third on an error by the catcher before scoring on Lukkason’s sac fly. Matt Mundfrom threw the first five innings and gave up seven runs on nine hits with three strikeouts. Josh Wagner threw one inning and Lucas Schultz threw the final inning and picked up the win.
In the second game of the day, DWU took control early with a six-run second inning. Nagle had a two-run double and McBreen, Wenande and Cusick each sent in a run. The Tigers added six more in the fourth thanks to a three-run homer by Kaplan, an RBI double by Nockleby and an RBI single from Kaplan. Kaplan went 4-for-4 with four RBIs to pace DWU, which had 18 hits. McBreen and Silveria each had three hits and Cusick and Wenande added two. Nick Pecha threw all seven innings to earn the win. He gave up 10 runs on 12 hits and struck out two batters.
The Tigers end their spring break trip Saturday, March 9, when they take on Minot State University in one nine-inning game at noon CDT.