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Mission Accomplished: Baseball Bulldogs Win Their First KCAC Championship




GREAT BEND, Kan. — Tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 11th inning, Andres Artola, Jr. called game with a walk-off home run over the left field fence to give the McPherson College Bulldogs the 6-5 win over Kansas Wesleyan and help them secure their first KCAC Tournament title in program history. The Bulldogs will advance to the NAIA Opening Rounds for the third consecutive year, and third time overall.

“This is definitely the best moment I’ve had in my college baseball career, and I’m extremely happy we got to pull this one out for our seniors,” Artola said. “I am excited to bring in the first ring to the baseball program with this group of guys.”

The Bulldogs tied the game in the ninth inning thanks to RBI singles by Gage Ninness and JT Edmunds and had an opportunity to win it then with the bases loaded and two outs, but Caleb Feuerstake was unable to reach safely.

“Our guys simply refused to leave Great Bend today without a Banner,” co-interim head coach Pete Horner said. “They competed their tails off until the very end. It’s a credit to the resiliency of that group.”

Drake Miller came on in the tenth frame and struck out four batters over the next two innings to keep the game tied, setting the stage for Artola’s fourth blast of the season.

“I was having great at-bats the whole game and I knew they were going to try to keep me off balance with off-speed early in the count, so I laid off them and finally got my fastball middle in,” Artola said. “Hitting my first-ever walk-off homer was a crazy feeling! I can’t describe this feeling, especially for the game to win the tournament.”

The Bulldogs (36-14, 26-7 KCAC) scored six runs on 11 hits, led by Fernandez and Artola with two apiece. Fernandez added a team-high two RBIs, while Feuerstake, Artola, and Hunter Robinson each walked twice.

“This win is so much bigger than all of us,” Horner said. “It’s an embodiment and a tribute to all the past and current players/staff who have built the foundation that has allowed us to make program history. The wait is over. The door has been kicked down. McPherson College Baseball can finally say they are champions.”

Antonio Fernandez put the Bulldogs on the board early in the first, with his team-leading 13th home run of the season, then Blake Maddock took over on the defensive side, striking out nine batters to hold the Coyotes to just one run.

A four-run eighth inning by the Coyotes that included three RBI singles and a bases-loaded walk gave them a 5-2 advantage and all the momentum.

“What an unbelievable game all around. Kansas Wesleyan is an outstanding team, and Bill Neale runs a great program over there,” Horner said.

The Bulldogs advance to the NAIA Opening Rounds starting on May 15, and will learn their opponent and site when the NAIA reveals the bracket Thursday afternoon (May 11) at 4 pm.

Click HERE to watch Thursday’s selection show live on the NAIA’s Facebook page.