Baseball splits the RussMatt Invitational in Florida


Contributed by: Erin Hefel

The Winona State Warriors made their annual trip to FLorida for the RussMatt Florida Invitational in Davenport, FL. They played six games in four days and went 3-3.

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, Sports Editor

America’s pastime ramps back up this month and with that is the Warriors annual Florida tournament over Spring Break.

The RussMatt Florida Invitational was held in Davenport, Fla. and consisted of six games across four days.

Within this, the Warriors played West Virginia Wesleyan College, Davis and Elkins College, Grand Valley State University, California University of Pennsylvania, Lewis University and Saginaw Valley State University.

The Warriors went straight from a series against University of Missouri – St. Louis, where they went 1-3.

Game one against WVWC started out strong for Winona State with nine runs by the fifth inning with third-year Peter Tveite as the starting pitcher.

The first inning went by fast with no runs for either team before the game picked up in the second.

On a single to left field from first-year Ryland Wall, Carter Brinkman advanced to second and Josh Gullickson and Dane Weiland both scored for the first points of the game.

From there, it was a domino effect of scoring off each other until the Bobcats got cracking in the bottom of the sixth inning.

However, WVWC could not catch up enough as the game ended 11-5 with a great effort from second-year Mason Trocke, Baumgartner and Ryland Wall throughout the whole game.

This game also marked the second time this season that a Winona State player has had four hits in a game, when earlier in the season Cooper Kapanke did the same against Drury University.

The Warriors started out strong once again in game two of the invitational against Davis and Elkins.

In the bottom of the first, the team started out with Kapanke singling to left field to score Kyle Yu after he had stolen second base shortly before.

Davis and Elkins evened it out at the top of the third inning with a fly ball to right field while NIACC transfer Drew Lingen was pitching.

Lingen is not the only transfer that has been excelling so far this season, there is also Nathan Osborne from NIACC, Sean Menzel played ball at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh before surgery and a year off at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Anthony Guzzo from Cornell College.

“What helped me the most in my transition was taking a gap year after surgery during my first year which helped me better prepare my body and ability to be able to compete at the DII level,” Menzel said. “I am very goal oriented and have set goals for myself to achieve to be the best player I can be to contribute to my team’s success.”

At the bottom of the third, Jess Ondell singled to score Menzel and Weiland which unleased yet another ripple for a 6-1 score at the end of the inning.

In the seventh inning, the Warriors hustled to score four points after two scattered in the three in between to win the game due to a 10-point differential.

With two wins in the books so far for the invitational, Winona State was feeling good as they went into the match up against Grand Valley State University on Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after their last win.

GVSU came out stronger than Winona State did, with first-year Pierce Gritzmaker on the mound.

After two uneventful innings, the top of the third came with two points for the opposing team which was quickly returned when a hit by Kapanke scored Josh Hawksford.

However, the Lakers kept rolling through points while the Warriors unfortunately did not for a final score of 10-5 by the end of the ninth.

Leading into the second half of the invitational, Yu led the offensive effort with two hits including one that scored Hawksford.

Beatty also made an impressive effort with a double to right field, scoring both Yu and Hawksford in the sixth inning.

Yu and Osborne also stole a base each while Menzel drew two walks during the match.

Unfortunately, the Warriors began the hustle too late as California University of Pennsylvania had scored eight points before Winona State had scored one in the bottom of the fourth.

The game against the Vulcans ended 11-5 with this being the first meeting of the two teams.

“In that Grand Valley game I think we played pretty well it was just certain situations and runners in scoring position, we just didn’t execute,” third-year Josh Gullickson said.

Friday’s second game saw Baumgartner with 3 for 5 at the plate with Kyle Gendron and Nevin Wall partnered on the plate to earn the win of the day.

Most of the early points were on sacrifice flys and errors, Trocke scoring Beyer, Beyer scoring on an error and Kapanke scoring Baumgartner, but soon it sped up once the Flyers got momentum and Yu stepped up to the plate.

The game was tied at the bottom of the fifth before Yu drove Menzel in and then scored himself to put the Warriors back on top of the game.

Baumgartner completed the effort as he doubled on a fly ball, scoring Beyer.

The mound started with Justin Firpo before a brief appearance by John Breske and Nevin Wall followed by Gendron earning the win.

The last game of the six-game invitational, against Saginaw Valley State, occurred on Saturday morning with Bailey Banaszynski beginning on the mound.

The Cardinals started off strong, scoring the first three runs of the game before Baumgartner and Ryland Wall both singled, both earning a run.

Sadly, those were the only points the Warriors would score during the game and it ended 7-2.

The Warriors returned to Minnesota 3-3 in the RussMatt Invitational and 4-10 in their season overall before beginning conference games this weekend.

Upcoming is the last non-conference game against Mount Mercy University on March 14 and the home opener on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19 against University of Minnesota – Duluth who ended the team’s season last year with a 7-1 score.

“I’m really excited to get out there,” Gullickson said. “So I think it’ll be really nice to open up the season against [Duluth] and I know that we’ll come out firing being that they ended our season last year, but I know they’re a good team and I feel like we’re definitely ready, we’re just gonna have to bring a lot of juice out there.”

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