Cougars Earn Split With SMSU, Snap Nine Game Losing Streak
SIOUX FALLS, SD — After enduring a narrow 6-4 defeat in Tuesday’s opener versus Southwest Minnesota State (17-14, 8-7 NSIC), the Sioux Falls baseball team held off a late-inning Mustang rally in the nightcap to salvage a split on the afternoon, winning game two 8-7.
The split keeps USF (15-20, 9-13 NSIC) in striking distance for an NSIC tournament berth.
Mired in an eight-game losing streak heading into Tuesday—a skid that saw the Cougars go 38-for-212 at the plate (.179)—USF exploded for 21 hits combined against the Mustangs.
Derek Fischer (4-4) had his second tough outing in as many midweek twinbills in the day’s opener, giving up six runs, all earned, on eleven hits. Senior Austin Goodenow threw a hitless seventh for the Cougars.
SMSU got on the board early with one run in the top of the second inning. Reigning NSIC Player of the Week Patrick Rients belted a one-out double and was plated with a two-out single by Sam Haas.
The score remained the same until the top half of the fifth, where SMSU’s Tanner Neale led off with a solo shot and the Mustangs touched Fischer for three more runs on six hits to boost their lead to 5-0.
The Cougars broke through with two runs in the sixth on the strength of RBI hits by Gunner Peterson and Noah Durkin. They threatened for more when Noah Coleman singled to put men on first and second with one out, but the Mustangs got out of the inning with a strike out- caught stealing double play.
A lead-off homer in the seventh by Jon Ellis provided what would be a much-needed margin of safety for the Mustangs, as USF rallied for two runs in the home half when Trevor Crow laced a one-out single to left to score Durkin and Jeske, who drew a lead-off base on balls. USF had the game-winning run at the plate after Jeremy Varner sacrificed Coleman and Crow to second and third but the rally fell just short when Dylan Dwyer grounded out to short.
Jimmy Callahan (5-0) picked up the victory for the Mustangs throwing six-plus innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
Offensively, the Cougars’ No. 2 through No. 5 hitters went a combined 8-for-16 at the plate (.400) with four RBI and two runs scored with Peterson, Durkin, Coleman and Crow posting two hits apiece.
Thanks to an early offensive outburst, the Cougars were able to save themselves from the embarrassment of wasting a stellar outing by junior righty Henry Ojeda and hung on for an 8-7 victory in the nightcap.
The Cougars pounced on SMSU starter Travis McGlauflin (0-2) in the second inning putting together four hits and a walk to push across four runs. Brandon Truesdell singled to open the frame and was doubled home by Anthony Lopez. Michael Downs followed with a big two-bagger that plated both Lopez and Austin Rickhey, who walked before a sac fly off Peterson’s bat extended USF’s lead to 4-0.
SMSU quickly answered in the third as Kontz delivered with a two-run double to score Haas and Neale and make the score 4-2, but USF would score single runs in the third through sixth innings to increase the margin to six runs at 8-2.
Ojeda scattered two runs on four hits in seven strong innings before being relieved by Jordan Jeske, who threw a hitless eighth. Connor Gibson came on in the ninth but ran into immediate trouble, walking the first three batters to give the suddenly rejuvenated Mustangs juiced bases with no outs.
Following a strikeout, Jordon Kontz came through with a two-run single, before Ellis drilled a double to make the score 8-5. Austin Stubbs and Rients then connected for back-to-back RBI singles to trim the Mustangs’ deficit to 8-7 and put the tying run on second base.
Noah Coleman was summoned to play the hero and got the next batter to hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out but things got dicey when he pelted Jason Minnet with a 2-1 fastball once again to load the bases. Unrattled, the senior lefty induced a grounder to shortstop to end the game.
Ojeda improved to 5-4 on the mound, while McGlaufin fell to 0-2. USF pounded out 11 hits and was paced by Durkin, who finished 3-for-5 with a run scored. Downs went 2-for-4 with a pair of ribbies and Crow filled the box score with his solid 2-for-2, RBI, run scored effort and also drew a walk.
USF will remain at home this weekend. The Cougars’ four game NSIC series against Minnesota-Duluth has been relocated from Duluth to Sioux Falls but will remain a Friday and Saturday series. Both doubleheaders will begin at 12 p.m. at Harmodon Park.
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls