BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – For the second straight night, Midland University faced off against a top five slugging team in the country in the Bartlesville Bracket of the 2017 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round. The difference on Tuesday night – the Warriors’ season was on the line.
Midland ace Kiefer Musiel did not back down from the challenge.
The Warrior senior got plenty of help from his teammates’ bats in a 20-10 triumph over Bryan College in the elimination game. Midland advances to another win-or-go home game on Wednesday afternoon.
“At this point of the season there’s no better feeling than knowing you get to wake up and play another game. We have that opportunity thanks to Kiefer’s effort and our entire lineup putting together a memorable offensive performance,” said head coach Chad Miller.
“Bryan is an excellent offensive team and Kiefer used his three-pitch arsenal to keep them off balance. Given the ballpark and the wind conditions, he had to execute to get outs and did just that with quality pitches.”
A glance at Musiel’s final line of seven runs on seven hits over 6.2 IP doesn’t do justice to his stellar performance. With an early 10-0 lead in his back pocket, Musiel limited the Lions to just one hit through the first four innings of the ballgame.
Knowing the pitching staff was thin, Musiel turned in a career high 158-pitch outing. Bryan tagged him for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth before finally chasing him from the game in the seventh. Visibly gassed on the mound, Musiel continued to battle in an attempt to save the MU bullpen before surrendering a grand slam which finally ended his night.
Musiel struck out nine batters while improving to 10-1.
Before Musiel even toed the rubber, he was the benefactor of a 2-0 lead. To say Midland scored in bunches would be an understatement. The Warriors scored in each of the first seven frames and hung at least two runs on the board in five of those innings.
MU matched a season-high with seven home runs as the Bartlesville Bracket has seen 33 long balls leave Doenges Memorial Stadium through six games.
Amidst the flurry of offense, Cole Gray had a 2-for-4 night and added another milestone to his senior campaign. Gray ended the night with 85 hits which is a new single-season record.
Tuesday’s victory also made team history as it was the first time in program history that Midland has won two games in an opening round appearance.
“I’m really proud to have achieved that program first, but we’re not satisfied,” Miller said. “There is more in front of us to accomplish, and we are thankful and excited for the opportunity tomorrow.”
Midland (42-19) and Indiana Tech (42-13) will square off in a battle of the Warriors on Wednesday at 1 p.m. The winner advances to the Bartlesville final and the loser’s season will end.