FULTON, Mo. - Westminster baseball split the first two games of the series against Nebraska Wesleyan with a 6-3 loss in the first game and a 4-2 win in the second game.
The Blue Jays open the season 1-1.
Alex Dickneite took the mound the Westminster in the first game. After giving up two runs to start the inning, he pitched five shutout innings to give the Blue Jays a chance to catch up.
"We knew going into the spring that pitching was going to be a big key for us," said Westminster Head Coach Denny Hughes. "What was most impressive was their strikeout to walk ratio. We're really pleased with that. I'm pleased with how they came in and performed."
The Blue Jays took the lead with a two-run third inning. Nick Bohlmann reached on a single while Tanner Branneky advanced him with a walk. Both runners advanced on a passed ball. Nick Cessna earned an RBI on a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Bohlmann. A grounder from Gvillo scored Branneky on the next batter to make the score 3-2 in favor of Westminster.
Both teams were scoreless until the seventh inning. Branneky took over at the mound to make the close, but gave up four runs to give the first win to Nebraska Wesleyan, 6-3.
Dickneite pitched six innings, giving up two runs on six hits, walking three and striking out eight.
"We've got some guys returning from last year and they've shown great leadership," said Hughes of his young team. "We are going to rely on them to help lead us early on until we get the new sguys acclimated to our brand of baseball. They've done a great job."
For the second game, freshman Sam Huesgen took the mound for Westminster.
The Blue Jays scored early in a two-run second inning. Cessna started the inning by reaching on an error, and advanced to second after a Gvillo walk. Blake Strebler loaded the bases by reaching on another Praire Wolf error. Long doubled down the third base line to score both runs of the inning.
The Blue Jays again produced two runs in the bottom of the third. Two leadoff walks from Gvillo and Strebler, and Mason Price reached base on a fielder's choice to load the bases.
Another RBI single from Long scored Gvillo, and a passed ball added the second run of the inning to score Strebler.
Huesgen pitched six shutout innings until giving up a solo homerun in the seventh.
Justin Riggins came in to pitch the last two innings of the game, giving up one run in the ninth inning. Cessna came in to close out the game in the ninth to give Westminster the 4-2 win.
Long led the Blue Jays offensively with four of seven RBI.
"A.C. Long came in big for us twice," said Hughes. "That's what we hope for from our older guys. A.C. manages a game well from behind the plate, so any time we can get a catcher who contributes on the offensive end, that's a big plus for the program. Anytime he does that it's icing on the cake."
Westminster plays Nebraska Wesleyan Sunday at noon for the rubber match.