The Golden Eagles continue to surge with their sixth straight win.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Jayden Grover (So., RHP, Cooperstown, N.D.) struck out 10 batters as he guided the University of Minnesota Crookston baseball team to a 7-3 win over University of Missouri-St. Louis. Grover was aided by relievers Graeme Cherry (Jr., LHP, Millarville, Alberta) and Esten Beneda (R-So., RHP, Lankin, N.D.) as the Golden Eagles put up one of their best pitching performances of the season. The Minnesota Crookston arms were aided by opportune hits including home runs from Ethan Mushitz (Sr., SS, East Grand Forks, Minn.) and Reed Hjelle (Jr., 1B, East Grand Forks, Minn.).
The game was played under the lights at Osceola County Stadium, the former Spring Training home of the Houston Astros from 1985-2016. It is currently the home of the Florida Fire Frogs, a class A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.
The Golden Eagles improve to 7-4 on the season, their best mark in the first 11 games in program history. Minnesota Crookston has an unblemished 4-0 mark during their Florida trip. Missouri-St. Louis falls to 5-5 with Thursday’s loss. The Tritons have historically been a strong program, winning over 25 games each season from 2012-16. Missouri-St. Louis is currently under the leadership of Interim Head Coach Cory Wahl, who took over for long-time head coach Jim Brady, who passed away from a short battle with cancer in November. Brady coached the Tritons for 32 seasons.
Grover put together one of the best outings of the season for any Minnesota Crookston pitcher. He went 5.2 innings, giving up just two earned runs on five hits with 10 strikeouts and five walks.
Cherry came on in a big spot with the bases juiced in the sixth inning and got a crucial strikeout to hold the lead for the Golden Eagles. The left-hander went 2.1 innings and gave up just two hits and no runs with four strikeouts. Beneda finished up the quality pitching outing by logging one inning with no runs on one hit.
The pitchers combined to allow just two earned runs with 14 strikeouts and just four walks.
Hjelle paced Minnesota Crookston at the plate as he went 2-of-4 with two RBIs and one run scored, including a solo shot hit 405 feet over the center field fence. Mushitz went 1-of-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Mitchell Bornhauser (Sr., OF, Northfield, Minn.) went 1-of-3 with one run scored. Zach Frazier (R-Sr., C, Grand Rapids, Minn.) was 1-of-3 with one run scored, while Wyatt Peppel (R-So., DH, Greenbush, Minn.) went 1-of-3 with one run scored.
Matt Graser got the start for Missouri-St. Louis and went 6.2 innings, giving up six runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Bobby Shallenberger came on in relief and gave up one run on no hits with three walks and one strikeout in one frame. Ben Leuthauser wrapped up the game, as he went 0.1 innings and gave up no runs and no hits.
The Tritons were led at the plate by Jake Morsch, who was 2-of-5 with one RBI, while Brian Seymour was 2-of-3 with one run scored. Derek Freeman was 1-of-3 with one run scored.
Mushitz opened the game in the bottom of the first with a two run shot over the right field fence to plate himself and Bornhauser. It was his second straight game hitting a home run over the right field fence.
The Golden Eagles added to their lead in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded, Anthony Stewart (R-Sr., OF, Oak Harbor, Wash.) reached on a fielder’s choice and drove in Frazier. Peppel would cross the plate on a wild pitch to end the scoring for the frame as Minnesota Crookston led 4-0.
Missouri-St. Louis cut the lead to 4-1 as Derrick Freeman scored on an error from Hjelle at first base. A Cooper Vinz ground-rule double drove in Seymour to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Minnesota Crookston responded in the bottom of the third as Hjelle hit a shot over the center field fence 405 feet to move the advantage to 5-2.
The Tritons cut the lead to 5-3 when Morsch hit a triple to right center to drive in Jarrett O’Brien.
Grover loaded up the bases with walks in the top of the sixth. He would come off with two outs as Cherry tried to preserve the lead. He came through in the clutch as he retired O’Brien to keep the lead 5-3.
Minnesota Crookston extended the lead to 6-3 when Hjelle singled to left center to plate Mushitz in the bottom of the seventh.
The Golden Eagles moved their advantage to 7-3 in the bottom of the eighth when Cullinane scored on an error at short stop. Minnesota Crookston stranded three on the bases as Leuthauser got the final out of the inning.
Missouri-St. Louis would get two one with one out as Morsch singled and J Shoemaker reached on an error. However, Beneda got two key outs to preserve the 7-3 win for Minnesota Crookston.
The Golden Eagles continue play at the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic Fri., March 9 as they take on No. 25 Seton Hill University at 1 p.m. C.T. at Osceola Heritage Park – Field 1.