by Lucas Treat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Orange City, IA - Eric Widener hit a two-out, walkoff single to give Northwestern a 9-8 win over Midland in the 2013 GPAC baseball championship game played at Duncan Field in Hastings, Neb. Northwestern becomes the first team since 2006 to win both the GPAC regular season and postseason championship. They improve to 31-17 on the year.
Davis Bloemendaal was hit by a pitch to lead off the ninth inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Morris. Noah Bohlmann was intentionally walked and both runners moved up after a passed ball. Following a strikeout, Widener hit a 2-1 pitch from Grant Gieselman (0-2) to rightfield, scoring Bloemendaal from third, and a mass celebration ensued at first as teammate mobbed Widener at first base.
Bloemendaal paced the Red Raiders 12-hit attack, going 4-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Cody Groskreutz went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBIs, hitting a three-run home run and an RBI triple.
Josh Turner (3-3), the fourth Red Raider pitcher, earned the win on the mound, giving up five hits and one run in the final three innings. He walked one and struck out five. Isaac Horrigan started the game and pitched the first 4.1 innings, giving up seven hits and seven runs while striking out four. Matt Piocos and Chase Rozeboom combined for 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Midland opened the games scoring with a three-run first inning before Northwestern got a run back in the bottom of the first after an RBI single by Morris.
Northwestern took its first lead in the third inning when Micah Linn and Corey Van Gorp hit back-to-back singles and scored on Groskreutz's second home run of the championship, a drive over the right field wall.
The Red Raiders added two more runs in the fourth inning after an RBI triple by Linn, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Van Gorp.
With the score 6-3, Midland went ahead on an inside-the-park, grandslam home run by Dylan Steyer.
Trailing 7-6, Northwestern went ahead in sixth inning when courtesy runner Brett Rolls scored after a triple by Groskreutz, who scored on an RBI single by Bloemendaal.
Down to its final out, Midland scored the tying run when Vinny Orsi doubled in Nate Bence to put the score at 8-8, setting up the drama in the bottom of the ninth.
Linn, Van Gorp, Morris and Widener all added two hits each for Northwestern, who will find out where they will play in the opening round of the NAIA Opening Round on Monday at noon.