Mitch Bornhauser knocked in the winning run to seal a four game sweep of the Beavers.
The Golden Eagles are doing their best to put the woes of a 12 game losing streak behind them. This past weekend, they took a step in the right direction sweeping Bemidji State in four games in a two day span. After outscoring the Beavers by 17 in the first three games, UMC faced their toughest battle of the weekend that resulted in a walk-off win to complete the sweep.
“They deserve it,” Head Coach Steve Gust said. “We spent the last five days shoveling ice and snow and this game rewards the teams it should. We were rewarded today. We just got to keep getting better and see where the chips fall at the end.”
Senior OF Mitchell Bornhauser played hero in the weekend finale delivering the game-winning hit to left field and inducing a team-wide celebration by first base.
Bornhauser originally stepped to the plate with the Golden Eagles trailing, but a balk forced home the tying run and put the winning run 90 feet away.
“My approach was pretty much the same [after the balk],” Bornhauser said. “Just to be aggressive and look for a pitch to drive and knowing I just need to put the ball in play. I knew it was game over once I hit the ball. It was very exciting and a very huge win.”
Timely hitting and consistent pitching contributed to the series opening win. Four different Golden Eagles knocked in runs starting with junior 1B Reed Hjelle’s RBI fielder’s choice in the first.
UMC put up a crooked number in the third inning to extend their lead to 3-0 on an RBI single from Sr. OF Scott Mortenson and an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of junior 3B Johnathan Lund.
“We have to be good in situational hitting,” Gust said. “Especially with weather like this. I thought we got some key bunts down and stole some bases. We pride ourselves in fundamental baseball.”
After the Beavers cut the lead to one run in the sixth inning, an RBI sacrifice bunt by senior OF James Cullinane provided an insurance run.
Sophomore RHP Jayden Grover went 5.2 innings allowing two runs on four hits and struck out five to earn the win and improve to 2-5 on the season.
Junior RHP Zach Seipel went 1.1 scoreless innings to preserve the win and earn his sixth save of the season in a 4-2 win.
“We established the strike zone right away,” Gust said. “Both of our starting pitchers did a great job of letting the hitters get themselves out. We spotted up the fastball and all the other stuff they had worked around a good fastball.”
Game two featured scoring early and often by the Golden Eagles. UMC tagged Bemidji State’s starter for six runs in the first inning, although only three were earned, en route to a 12-0 victory.
Hjelle led the Golden Eagles offense going 3-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs. Freshman 3B Ben Thoma knocked in two runs as did Cullinane.
“We took advantage of their mistakes,” Gust said. “They had some errors, but good hitting teams do that. It’s everybody doing their job and finding their pitches to hit. We battled at the plate and got the job done when we needed it most.”
Sophomore Justin Yutrzenka pitched the complete game shutout and carried a one-hitter into the final inning and punched out eight Beaver batters in the process. The win evens Yutrzenka’s record at 2-2.
“It’s good to see local guys do well,” Gust said. “That was his best performance I’ve seen from him in over a year. He attacked and established the fastball. When he has the right mindset, he’s as good as anyone in the league.”
UMC took advantage of Beaver errors in game one of Sunday’s double header.
Lund drew a bases loaded walk in the first inning to plate the first run. Then two errors by Bemidji State helped the Golden Eagles to a five-run second inning capped off by a two RBI triple by Mortenson and an RBI from Lund.
The early six runs proved to be a sufficient amount as UMC starter LHP Zach Rustad threw five innings surrendering two hits and two unearned runs while sending down nine via the strikeout.
Senior RHP Gabriel Cavasos went the final two innings allowing no runs on one hit and sealed the win for Rustad who improved to 2-4 in a 6-2 win.
The final game in the four game series offered the most drama and excitement. The two teams traded blows throughout the contest, UMC’s head coach Steve Gust was ejected in the seventh inning and the Golden Eagles walked off to win their sixth game in the last eight.
The Beavers struck first with a home run in the third inning, but an RBI groundout in the bottom half by R-Sr. CF Anthony Stewart tied the game at 1-1.
Bemidji State put up three runs in the fifth inning courtesy of a single and a two RBI triple. The second run in the triple was ruled safe at home due to an obstruction call against the UMC catcher Zach Frazier which brought out Gust for an argument. Gust argued Frazier was in the right as he was making a move to catch the ball, but Gust did not win the argument and received a warning.
UMC wasted no time scoring three in the fifth to tie the game once again. Stewart started the rally sending a fly ball to left center for an RBI double. Two batters later,
senior SS Ethan Mushitz crushed a ball that cleared the fence in right center to tie the game at four apiece.
“Our players stepped up,” Gust said. “We had some big at bats whether it ended in a walk or a big hit. We just made big plays at big times today.”
For the third time in the game, Bemidji State took the lead. This time on the Beaver’s second home run of the game. The home run brought Gust out of the dugout to argue a close pitch just before the knock. Gust was ejected, but the Bornhauser said the team did not allow it to affect them.
“I knew after the home run, it was going to be tough,” Bornhauser said. “Once coach got tossed out of the game, we had to stay competitive and see what happens.”
The Golden Eagles needed to rally in the bottom of the seventh and carried it out in an unorthodox way. Stewart led off the inning with a walk and Thoma reached on a bunt single designed to be a sacrifice. Mushitz then got down a sac-bunt to advance the runners to second and third. The Beavers then intentionally walked Hjelle which brought up Bornhauser for his first at bat of the weekend.
In the middle of the at bat, the Beaver pitcher balked while delivering a pitch allowing Stewart to come home with the tying run. A few pitches later Bornhauser sent a line drive to left field and the rest of the Golden Eagles charged the field to mob Bornhauser and celebrate a 5-4 win.
“You never know what you’re going to see in baseball,” Gust said. “To have Mitch step up and be in that position and get the job done is great for him. He’s a defensive replacement now, but it feels good when a kid like that gets a big hit. That was earned through all his hard work.”
UMC now sits at 16-19 on the year. The games did not count for conference wins and the Golden Eagles’ record in the NSIC remained idle at 2-14.
The Golden Eagles are scheduled to take the field again versus St. Cloud State on Wednesday, April 18. The games originally slated to be played in St. Cloud might be moved to Crookston, but no official word has been issued.