Dixie State University remained unbeaten with a walk-off grand slam by redshirt senior infielder Tanner Morache that gave the Storm a 9-6 victory over Saint Martin’s University Sunday.
DSU entered the weekend with an unblemished 8-0 record and remained perfect as it finished its opening 10-game home stand.
The Storm welcomed the Minot State University Beavers to Bruce Hurst Field Friday. DSU scored eight runs over the first four innings of play while allowing just one run during that time.
The Beavers would strike back hard in the top of the fifth as they tallied five runs off sophomore pitcher Dylan File, cutting the Storm’s lead to 8-6.
Junior pitcher Mason Hilty silenced the Beavers over the next 3 1/3 innings as he allowed no runs on four hits while striking out six in relief. DSU would add three runs over the final three innings to secure the victory 11-6.
“This team has a lot of heart,” said sophomore pitcher Aaron Pope, a criminal justice major from Chubbuck, Idaho. “We always compete, and we never give up.”
Redshirt senior infielder Tanner Morache finished going 4-4 with an RBI while redshirt junior outfielder Trey Kamachi had three hits in five at-bats for the Storm in the vicory.
“This is a veteran group of guys,” head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. “We have guys that have been here for many years, and they continue to find ways [to win].”
The Storm matchup against SMU ended in perhaps the most thrilling way possible — a walk-off grand slam.
The Saints scored the first two runs of the game in the top of the fourth, but DSU would quickly retaliate with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning. The Storm would then add two more runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead.
DSU kept the Saints scoreless over the next three innings and also added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to take a 4-2 lead into the ninth.
After a one-out walk, SMU catcher Zach Raczok tied the game on a two-run homerun. The Storm were scoreless in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extra innings.
The Saints would load the bases in the tenth, and with two outs in the inning, pinch hitter Cameron Mosier grounded a ball over DSU senior pitcher Kolton Brost’s glove scoring one run. SMU would add another run in the inning off a balk and lead DSU 6-4.
“We never quit,” said Morache, an integrated studies major from Vancouver, Canada. “It doesn’t matter if we are down or beat up, we still keep going.”
DSU did not quit as it entered the bottom of the 10th needing to score at least two runs to keep its chances of winning alive. Redshirt sophomore infielder Cam Gust cut the deficit in half with a solo homerun to start off the inning.
A single and a double by the Storm put runners on second and third with one out. After an intentional walk was issued to redshirt junior outfielder Jerome Hill II, Morache said he stepped to the plate hoping to win it for his team.
“I wanted to get a pitch I could hit and put a good swing on it,” Morache said. “Anytime someone is intentionally walked in front of you, you get a little fire under you.”
On the first pitch, Morache sent a deep shot to right center field which cleared the wall for a walk-off grand slam, giving DSU the 9-6 victory. The homerun was Morache’s first of the season. The all-conference infielder also leads the team in RBIs with 13 and batting average, hitting a whopping .487.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone,” Morache said. “When you hit a ball like that, you just kind of know.”
Morache finished going 3-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored. Seven of the nine starters for the Storm finished with at least one hit in the game. Redshirt junior infielder Drew McLaughlin also went deep to help the cause.
DSU stands at a perfect 10-0 record and will now play its first road games of the season as it travels to face Colorado Mesa University in a four-game series starting Friday.