Grinnell, IA -- The Beloit College Baseball team will truly have the chance to defend their 2016 Midwest Conference Championship after a pair of wins Friday at the MWC Tournament, topping host and South Division #1 seed Grinnell College 14-2 in the opener and then walking off against rival and North Division Champion St. Norbert College 2-1.
The wins put the Buccaneers into the Championship Game at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. If a second game is needed it will be played at 4:00 p.m.
In the second game Friday Jalen Davis ended a pitcher's dual with a walk-off single up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to score Ethan Conley with the game-winner.
Austin Padjen got the Bucs to that point, pitching his second straight complete game, scattering six hits while giving up just one unearned run for his third win of the season. He walked none and struck our four.
Kam Sallee provided the early lead, hitting a solo home run to center, the 11th of his career, good for second on the Beloit all-time list. That run stood up until the Green Knights scored an unearned run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth. SNC stranded a runner in scoring position in the top of the ninth to set the stage for Davis' game-ending heroics in the bottom of the inning.
Davis finished with three of the Buccaneers' seven hits.
In the opener Austin Martinez's fielder's choice RBI staked Beloit to a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth before the host team tied it up in the bottom of the inning. The Bucs grabbed the lead for good in the top of the fifth with a pair of runs, Mark Stephens scoring on a double play and Conley singling in Brice Call.
Beloit tacked on two more in the sixth when Call singled in Jeremy Dutton, who led off the inning with a triple to right-center, and then Conley singled in Call to make it 5-1. The Pioneers got one of the runs back in the bottom of the eighth to pull within 5-2. And then the Bucs put an exclamation point on the win.
The Buccaneers put nine runs on the board in the top of the ninth, seven of them unearned. Pinch-hitter Zach Jenkins started the fun with a two-run single; Conley reached on an error, driving in Dutton; Mark Christine walked with the bases loaded; Mike Gulve had an RBI groundout; and Sallee capped the inning with a grand slam to left to close out the scoring.
Davis and Dutton both had three hits while Sallee, Call and Christine all had two. Danny Belling earned his sixth win of the season, tying for the third-most in a season, going seven innings with four strikeouts. David Harrison and Steven O'Neil finished up the final two frames.
Beloit will be seeking its third MWC Baseball Championship since 2009 on Saturday.