CEDAR RAPIDS — Tarran Beasley couldn’t have scripted Senior Day any better.
Mount Mercy’s senior first baseman won’t likely forget how he contributed to its ending Saturday.
Beasley belted a grand slam, powering a seven-run rally in the bottom of the seventh and helping the Mustangs knock off NAIA ninth-ranked Clarke, 8-7, in college baseball action at Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ken Charipar Field.
“I might have teared up a little bit,” Beasley said. “It is senior day. We’re still battling to make it in the conference tournament. These two games are super important. That’s probably going to go down as one of my favorite memories in baseball.”
Mustangs Coach Jack Dahm recognized the special feat.
“I was real happy for him,” Dahm said. “It was real neat on senior day for Tarran to be able to do that.”
Beasley, from Midwest City, Okla., is in his second season at Mount Mercy. He went to Ellsworth and then followed one of his coaches to Scottsdale Community College for a season. He reunited with some of his former Ellsworth teammates.
The blast that highlighted the 11-batter comeback in the final inning might bring to a close a college career Beasley called “awesome.”
“It’s a good group of guys,” Beasley said. “Every day we come here, have fun and work hard. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to come.”
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The heroics seemed unlikely. Clarke (41-10, 25-6) dominated the first six innings, building a 7-1 lead thanks to the long ball. Kevin Hunley hit a three-run home run in the first. Eric Bueno had a solo shot in the second and Stephan Zanoni added a two-run blast in the third for a 6-0 Clarke lead.
Crusaders starter Jakob Kirman stifled the Mustangs, allowing one run on five hits. Once he left the game after the sixth, the Mustangs made their move.
Seniors provided a spark. Former Cedar Rapids Kennedy prep Cody Bell drew a pinch hit walk to open the seventh and Devin Holmes beat out an infield single. Consecutive walks to Cody Collender and Noah Dostal scored Bell and set up Beasley.
At the time, it didn’t sink in that the Mustangs (19-28, 11-20) were slowly chipping away at the lead.
“It hadn’t seemed like it,” Beasley said. “I know we had guys on (base), but with a deficit like that you have to take one at-bat at a time, which everybody did.
“One swing of the bat can change the game. Everybody did a good job to get on base. It was just in our favor.”
Beasley said he had problems with change-ups, swinging over the top of them. He received fastballs from reliever Abraham Rangel and just tried to take advantage by hitting the ball hard. He wasn’t sure he got all of it.
“I hadn’t really hit a lot of home runs to right field,” Beasley said. “I didn’t really know it was going to go over. It just happened to make it.”
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Beasley went 3-for-4 in the first game, leading off the fourth with a double and scoring on a wild pitch. He raised his batting average to .258 after his second homer of the year.
“He’s struggled this year,” Dahm said. “The last couple weeks he’s been swinging the bat a lot better.”
The Mustangs still trailed. A walk and hit batsman brought pinch-hitter Ben Larson to the plate. He was clutch, lacing an opposite-field single that scored Ian Fitzsimmons to tie the game, 7-7.
“He’s been really good the last few weeks in pinch-hit situations,” Dahm said. “He had a great at-bat there.”
Bell drew his second walk of the inning, bringing up Collin Shrader, whose earlier strikeout was Mount Mercy’s only out. Shrader beat out the throw of a possible inning-ending double play that allowed Reid Bonner to cross the plate with the winning run.
The rally kept Mount Mercy’s hopes alive for a berth to the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament.
“It was a good win for us,” Dahm said. “It was an important win, because we’re trying to make the conference tournament, but especially on senior day for that to happen was special.”
The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was stopped by rain with the teams tied, 1-1, in the top of the third. The teams will look to resume the contest Sunday or Monday.
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