Gents Take Mid-Con Tourney Hopes into Final Day of Season
Saturday, May 21, 2005

Matt Clark

VALPARAISO, Ind.—The Centenary Gents came into their final four-game series of the season needing to at least split on the road at Valparaiso to earn their second consecutive berth into the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. The Gents are par for the course after day one action, splitting with the Crusaders 4-2 and 2-4. With all other league teams finished with conference play, Centenary needs a win on Sunday to grab the final ticket to Tulsa, Okla.


Valparaiso (20-30, 9-11 Mid-Con) would be the direct beneficiary if the Crusaders can keep the Gents from reaching the tournament. Valpo has played two less games than Centenary and would have a better winning percentage with a sweep on Sunday.


Centenary (24-26, 11-11 Mid-Con) received a great pitching effort from Matt Clark in the series opener as the southpaw went seven innings and did not allow an earned run while walking only one batter. However, a fielding error in the second inning by the Gents led to four unearned runs and put Centenary in a hole it could not get out of.


After a leadoff single to start the second, Jon Rupno reached on an error by Centenary shortstop David Kiefer. A sacrifice bunt and a groundout plated Valparaiso’s first run of the game and would have been the third out of the inning. Instead, another single followed by a Kevin Perri home run quickly made it a 4-0 contest.


The Gents scratched out single runs in the fourth and the eighth innings but could not mount a sizeable threat to turn the tide.


Centenary struck first in the second game of the twinbill when Kiefer doubled to center field to score Tim Ryan in the first inning. Valparaiso answered in the home half of the second and the score remained knotted at 1-1 until the sixth inning.


Alex Valdivia and Ryan were both retired to start the sixth before Kiefer drew a walk to begin the rally. Chris Wilson, Justin Darr, Alex Moldonado, and Jonathan Ahearn then sent four consecutive singles into right field, which resulted in three Centenary runs.


Valparaiso managed a final run in the bottom of the last inning but Gents starter Will Kaage kept the damage to a minimum to collect the complete game victory. Kaage improved to 7-3 on the season while striking out six and scattering six hits.


The Gents and Crusaders will square off in the most important games of the season for both teams at 12 pm on Sunday. Oral Roberts, Western Illinois, and Southern Utah have already clinched a spot in the Mid-Con Tournament.