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Cougars remain in play-off hunt after taking home series

In the final home series of the season, the University of Minnesota, Morris baseball team took two of three from visiting Martin Luther Sunday.

The Cougars won 4-3 in 11 innings in the second game before a 7-3 win in the finale to take the series. In the first game of the day, before the offense got rolling, Martin Luther pitched the shutout as Morris fell 2-0.

Poor weather on the weekend forced the Sunday's tripleheader, but the Cougars responded to the adversity, and remain in the playoff hunt, just a game out of the final spot with three games left to go.

With six UMAC wins, the Cougars sit behind Northland and Presentation who each have seven, but would need to finish at least a game ahead of each, as both own tiebreakers over Morris.

In the marathon game two, the Cougars saw a 3-2 lead slip away in the sixth, with both offenses going silent for the next four innings as the 3-3 score carried all the way into the 11th. Ted Gray came in in relief in the seventh and pitched four scoreless innings to get the Cougars through the extra frames.

Things in the 11th started out bleak as the first two batters grounded out, but Dustin Sauter extended the inning with his walk, giving the Cougars new life with the winning run on and Mike McGill coming to the plate. McGill sent a sharp grounder to short, and an errant throw to first skipped all the way to the fence in foul territory. As the ball went out of play, a sprinting Sauter was already at third, and was awarded an extra base, sending him home for the winning run.

In the third and final game of the day, the Cougars carried the momentum, taking a 3-1 lead in the fourth and leading from then out. They added four for insurance in the sixth, and starter Jordan Gegen allowed just one harmless run in the top of the seventh as the Cougars closed out the win.

After opening the home campaign with a three-game sweep of Crown in late March, Morris closes with another series win. Cougar seniors Gray, Gegen, McGill, William Paine, Ben Schwarz, and Chris Thompson go out with back-to-back wins at home, and will now play their final conference series with a playoff berth on the line.

Gray and Gegen each earn wins on the mound, with Gegen also adding a 4-for-11 day at the plate with three runs batted in. Thompson was 3-for-8 on the day, with two walks and a run scored, while McGill also scored once, drove in one, and put the ball in play for the eventual winner in game two.

Thompson ups his season average to .310, joining Nick Perrotte (.375) and Eric Terres (.396) as .300 hitters on the year, while McGill adds to his team leading RBI total, sitting now with a career-high 19.

For the first time since that opening series with Crown, the Cougars secure back-to-back wins, ending a 10-game skid.

Their seven runs scored in the final game are the third most the Cougars have scored all season, while their 12 hits sit as the fourth best game of the season. With the signs of the offense starting to click at the right time, four of the Cougars' last seven games have resulted in 12 or more hits.

Morris will close out the season with a three-game series at Bethany Lutheran, May 4 and 5.

The UMAC Tournament then starts in Duluth on May