Jarrett Gable (SR/Colleyville, Texas) had not hit a grand slam in a game at any level during his baseball career until Sunday.
His first bases loaded blast cleared the centerfield fence in the eighth inning of Kansas Wesleyan’s game against Dakota Wesleyan and capped an astounding day in which he drove in eight runs. Gable also hit a 3-run homer in the seventh inning and had an RBI single in the fourth in leading the Coyotes to a 15-6 victory at Dean Evans Stadium.
The win gave KWU a sweep of the three-game series and continued the team’s dazzling offensive work this month. The Coyotes scored 35 runs in the DWU series after scoring 31 in a three-game series against Doane a week earlier and 42 in a three-game sweep of Peru State two weeks ago.
Brown and Foster’s homers gave Wesleyan a 6-0 lead after four innings but DWU (0-3) battled back to tie it 6-6 with four runs in the sixth and two in the seventh. That set the stage for Gable’s heroics.
“The first one I got lucky, the wind kind of pushed the ball out (over the right field fence),” said Gable, the Coyotes’ shortstop. “Should’ve been one run (sacrifice fly) and ended up getting three. I thought (the grand slam) was out off the bat but I was a little questionable once it got up in the current and the wind pushed it a little bit. It was pretty cool.”
Gable likes the Coyotes’ hitting capabilities this season and says it’s contagious.
“I believe last year was our best year as a team hitting-wise and I think this year is better,” he said. “That’s what happened this whole weekend, one guy gets a hit and it just snowballs from there and keeps going. We played big ball (home runs), we played small (bunts and stolen bases) really well.”
“Home runs are momentum swings,” KWU coach Bill Neale said. “They picked us up when things were going the wrong way and it definitely created some momentum. It’s an easy way to clear the bases with one swing of the bat.”
Tied 6-6 in the seventh inning Zack Beatty (JR/Maple Park, Ill.) led off with a single and pinch runner Coulson Riggs (FR/Piedmont, Okla.) scored on an error that gave the Coyotes a 7-6 lead. Diego Solis (SO/El Paso, Texas) singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Kevin Esquilin-Cruz (SR/Trujilo Alto, Puerto Rico) was hit by a pitch and Gable followed with his three-run shot making it 10-6.
In the eighth Dustin Sipe (SR/Aztec, N.M.) walked, Brown was hit by a pitch and Solis reached on error to load the bases. Esquilin-Cruz drew a walk to force in a run and Gable followed with his grand slam.
The Coyotes outhit DWU 12-9. Gable was 3 for 5 and Foster 2 for 4 with three RBI. Esquilin-Cruz scored three times and drove in one and Brown had two runs scored and two RBI.
Zach Westbrook (JR/Azle, Texas) started for KWU, pitched 5.1 innings and allowed four runs. He struck out four, walked two and hit one batter. Cayden Diccion (SR/Piedmont, Calif.) pitched one-third of an inning and gave up a run on two hits and a walk. Ritter Steinmann (SO/Oroville, Calif.) got the victory working 1.2 innings while surrendering two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks. KT Gearlds (SR/Ingram, Texas) pitched a scored eighth inning and Ryan Sandoval (SR/El Paso, Texas) a scoreless ninth.
“We’re still trying to sort out some roles, especially on the mound,” Neale said. “We’ve got a lot of different faces on the mound this year but that’s what this time is for, to get this sorted out before we open conference.
“Our starters are giving us a chance to win every time and it’s easier for the hitters when your starters to go out there and put zeros up to start the day.”
KWU plays Iowa Wesleyan in a three-game series starting with a 1 p.m. doubleheader next Saturday at Evans Stadium. A single game follows at noon Sunday.