Mike Stetson, Sports Information Director
FOREST CITY – First place!
The Warrior baseball team continued its remarkable run over the past month, sweeping Mayville State in a doubleheader for the second straight day to move into a tie for first place in the North Star Athletic Association standings.
Garrett Munoz pitched five strong innings and Joey Ponder provided the tying-breaking solo home run in the first game for a 3-2 win, then Waldorf starting pitcher Kyle Froom was backed up by an offensive onslaught that scored in every inning for a 10-2 victory in game two.
That completed a four-game sweep for the Warrior baseball team over last year’s regular-season NSAA champions and moved Waldorf (23-13 overall, 13-1 NSAA) into a share of first place with Bellevue, with both teams at 13-1 in league play.
Munoz (1-2) led the way in the opener throwing five strong innings, striking out three Mayville State batters and allowing just two unearned runs.
Those two runs crossed the plate in the top of the second inning, putting the Warriors in comeback mode.
The comeback came in the bottom of the third inning as Ponder was hit by a pitch and scored on an Alejandro Gonzalez triple, then Matt Palmer added an RBI sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
The Warrior defense then clamped down as Munoz picked off a base-runner, and Palmer threw out another Comet trying to stretch a single into a double in the top of the fourth inning.
Waldorf catcher Brett Stenlund then threw out a base-stealer in the top of the fifth inning, as the Warriors ended up cutting down four Comets on the base-paths in the win.
A win that came when Ponder blasted a lead-off homer over the left-field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning, breaking the 2-2 tie.
Nick Perfetto came on and pitched 3 1-3 innings of shutout ball for the Warriors in relief of Munoz, striking out three and holding the lead before turning it over to Nicholas Ray, who got the final two outs for his fourth save.
The Warriors then went for the sweep, once again having to erase an early deficit as Mayville State pushed home a run in the top of the first inning.
Waldorf responded with a run in its first at-bat as Ponder scored on a Stenlund bloop to right field, then the Warriors tacked on two more in the second inning as Cal Fazzio singled and scored on an error, and Dusty Rogers reached on that same error and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
An RBI base-on-balls got Mayville State (11-20, 5-11) as close as 3-2 down in the top of the third inning, but Jack Muhleck grabbed a ground ball at third base and turned an inning-ending double play that silenced the Comets final rally.
An RBI single by Fazzio in the bottom of the third re-established the Warriors 2-run lead, then Ponder, Palmer, Stenlund and Fazzio each drove in a run for Waldorf for an 8-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.
An RBI single by Gonzalez in the fifth inning, then an RBI double by Rogers in the sixth capped the scoring for the Warriors on the day.
Plenty of offense for Froom (6-1), who went five strong innings and struck out one Mayville State batter in the win. Nic Tebeau came on to finish off the victory, pitching two scoreless innings and striking out two in relief.
Ponder led the way on offense in the twinbill, going 4-for-5 with his home run and two RBIs, while Fazzio added a 5-for-8 effort at the plate and two more RBIs for Waldorf, which has won 16-of-17 over the last month, and now four straight.
Waldorf now takes its hot streak on the road for a nonconference doubleheader at Grand View on Tuesday at 1 p.m., then returns to league play on Friday and Saturday, playing doubleheaders at Valley City State.