The Golden Eagles lost 3-1 and 7-3 to drop their record to 12-19 on the year and 2-14 in conference play.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The University of Minnesota Crookston baseball team dropped a pair of close games to University of Sioux Falls Sat., April 7 at Sioux Falls Stadium in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Golden Eagles got a strong effort on the hill from Zach Rustad (Jr., LHP, Blaine, Minn.) in game one. However, Minnesota Crookston was held to just three hits on the day as they fell 3-1. In the second game, the Golden Eagles notched 10 hits, but two errors contributed to a 7-3 loss to the Cougars.

    Minnesota Crookston falls to 12-19 (2-14 NSIC) with Saturday’s doubleheader loss. Sioux Falls improves to 8-18 (8-8 NSIC) with the pair of wins.

Game One

    Rustad highlighted the efforts for Minnesota Crookston in the first tilt of the day. Rustad put forth one of his best outings of the season as he allowed just two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts and two walks.

    Minnesota Crookston would not be able to help their pitcher enough at the plate as they scattered five hits. The Golden Eagles looked to Scott Mortenson (Sr., OF, East Grand Forks, Minn.), who was 1-of-2 with one run scored. Anthony Stewart (R-Sr., OF, Oak Harbor, Wash.), Ethan Mushitz (Sr., SS, East Grand Forks, Minn.), Reed Hjelle (Jr., 1B, East Grand Forks, Minn.) and Wyatt Peppel (R-So., DH, Greenbush, Minn.) also picked up hits for the Golden Eagles.

    The Cougars got the scoring started in the first when Dylan Gavin doubled to left field to bring home Grant Lung putting USF up 1-0.

    Sioux Falls extended their lead to 2-0 in the second when Lung singled to center field to drive in Ryan Meyer.

    Hjelle doubled to center field to try to get something started in the bottom of the second for Minnesota Crookston. He moved over to third on a passed ball, but was unable to return to the dish as USF maintained a 2-0 lead.

    The Golden Eagles got to third base again in the third when Stewart tripled to right field. He would be stranded as Gavin struck out Ben Thoma (Fr., C, Clearbrook, Minn.) to keep the score at 2-0.

    Minnesota Crookston cut the lead to 2-1 as David Anaya (R-Sr., 2B, Tucson, Ariz.) flew out to drive in Mortenson.

    The Golden Eagles had a chance to even up the game or take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Stewart opened up the frame by reaching on an error. A Gavin pitch to give Minnesota Crookston two runners with no out then hit Thoma. With one out, Hjelle was walked to load up the bases for the Golden Eagles. Gavin got Jonathan Lund (Jr., 3B, Tolna, N.D.) to ground into a double play to squash the scoring chance for Minnesota Crookston.

    USF passed their lead in the top of the seventh when Lung hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Elizondo to put the score at 3-1.

    Minnesota Crookston took the game to the wire as they led off the seventh with a Mortenson single and a hit by pitch to Peppel. Stuart Maes came on a struck out the first batter and got Hunter Baldwin (R-So., 3B, St. Thomas, N.D.) to ground into a double play to preserve the 3-1 win for the Cougars.

    Esten Beneda (R-So., RHP, Lankin, N.D.) came on in relief for the Golden Eagles and allowed one unearned run on no hits with one walk in 0.2 innings. Dalton Grose (R-Fr., LHP, Waterville, Minn.) pitched 0.1 innings and got his one out.

Game Two

    Sioux Falls scored four runs in the third and took advantage of two errors on the day for Minnesota Crookston as they took the 7-3 win. Minnesota Crookston produced several scoring opportunities but left the bases loaded in the first and fifth as they were unable to take full advantage of their chances.

    The Golden Eagles had 10 hits overall as they stranded 10 runners. Hjelle guided Minnesota Crookston as he went 2-of-4 with one RBI and one run scored. Lund finished 2-of-4 with one RBI, while Peppel was 2-of-4 and Mortenson was 1-of-3 with one RBI and one run scored.

    Jacob Butcher (R-Sr., RHP, Palmer, Alaska) was saddled with the loss for the Golden Eagles as he allowed three earned runs on four hits with two strikeouts and two walks in 2.2 innings of work. Graeme Cherry (Jr., LHP, Millarville, Alberta) was the stand-out on the mound as he gave up just one unearned run on two hits with a strikeout and a walk in 4.1 innings. Zach Seipel (Jr., RHP, Eagan, Minn.) ran into some struggles in one inning as the closer gave up two runs on two hits with two walks in one frame. Louis Gerzin (Jr., RHP, Ely, Minn.) was strong as he gave up just one hit and no runs in one inning of work.

    The Golden Eagles had the first scoring chance as they used singles from Thoma and Hjelle, and a walk to Mortenson to load up the bases. Sioux Falls got out of trouble as they got Lund to foul out to keep the game even at 0-0. Minnesota Crookston would leave the bases full of Golden Eagles.

    USF broke through in the top of the third with four runs. Josh Rehwaldt delivered the big hit with the bases juiced as he doubled to right field to drive in Lung and Luke Rysavy. Brent Jarvis came around to score on a Gavin ground out to move the lead to 3-0. Matthew Minnick chased Butcher from the game with a single to left field to plate Rehwaldt as USF went up 4-0.

    The Golden Eagles cut the lead to 4-1 in the fourth when Lund singled to center field to drive in Mortenson. Minnesota Crookston had Peppel on first and Lund on second with two outs, but the two would stay put as James Cullinane (Sr., OF, San Francisco, Calif.) struck out looking.

    USF moved their lead to 5-1 as Minnick reached on an error by Lund, allowing Lung to come into score. Sioux Falls loaded up the bases later in the inning. They would be unable to add any more to their lead in the fifth frame.

    Minnesota Crookston added runs in the bottom of the fifth. Hjelle opened up the scoring with a double to plate Stewart. They cut the lead to 5-3 as Mortenson singled to right field to bring in Hjelle. A single from Lund and walk to Zach Frazier (R-Sr., C, Grand Rapids, Minn.) loaded up the bases for Minnesota Crookston. USF was able to get the final out as the Golden Eagles again stranded three. They were able to cut the deficit to 5-3 in the frame.

    USF moved their lead to 7-3 in the top of the eighth as they got to Seipel. Lung got a sacrifice fly to left field with the bases juiced to bring Anthony Lopez to the dish. Later in the frame, Alex Elizondo crossed the plate on a wild pitch.

    Minnesota Crookston had a scoring threat in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Baldwin doubled to left field and Peppel singled to put runners on second and third with one out. Sioux Falls got Eli Jung (Fr., OF, Dickinson, N.D.) to pop out and Stewart to strike out as they maintained the 7-3 lead.

    The Golden Eagles would be retired in order by Spencer Dokken as they came away with the 7-3 win.

    Minnesota Crookston is slated to open up their home slate Wed., April 11 at 1 and 3 p.m. against Bemidji State University at UMC Baseball Field in Crookston, Minn. The Golden Eagles were slated to play a four-game series with Sioux Falls but Sunday’s games were cancelled due to a threat of snow.