The Golden Eagles will play three games in two days.

    The University of Minnesota Crookston baseball team opens up the season at No. 20 University of Central Missouri Wed., Feb. 13 and Thurs., Feb. 14 with a three-game series. The Golden Eagles take on the Mules at 1 p.m. in a single nine-inning game Wednesday. Thursday, the two opposing schools will face-off in a 10 a.m. seven-inning tilt, and a 12 p.m. nine inning affair.

    The game will mark the season opener for the Golden Eagles. Central Missouri enters the weekend with a 2-4 mark.


Minnesota Crookston at Central Missouri, Wed., Feb. 13, 1 p.m.
Minnesota Crookston at Central Missouri, Thurs., Feb. 14, 10 a.m.
Minnesota Crookston at Central Missouri, Thurs., Feb. 14, 12 p.m.

Minnesota Crookston Preview

    Minnesota Crookston will look to start their road to their third appearance in the NSIC Tournament in the last four years. The Golden Eagles finished 2018 with a 24-27 (10-22 NSIC) mark. Minnesota Crookston had a strong non-conference season with wins over top NCAA Division II programs Seton Hill University, and Northwood University.

    The 2019 Golden Eagles will look very different from the 2018 squad as several members of last season’s team have graduated. Leading the way for this season’s version of Minnesota Crookston is 2018 NSIC Player of the Year Reed Hjelle (Sr., 1B, East Grand Forks, Minn.), who was selected as the 2019 NSIC Preseason Player of the Year. Hjelle hit .436 last season with 38 runs scored, 19 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs and 50 RBIs. Jonathan Lund (Sr., 1B/3B, Tolna, N.D.) returns after hitting .276 last season with two home runs and 23 RBIs. Hunter Baldwin (R-Jr., 1B/3B, St. Thomas, N.D.) hit .268 in 2018 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Ben Thoma (So., C/SS, Clearbrook, Minn.) also is back in the fray after scoring 21 runs and picking up 21 RBIs.

    Look for several newcomers to also factor into the fray for the Golden Eagles. Minnesota Crookston added junior college transfers Landyn Swenson (Jr., OF, Devils Lake, N.D.), Bryce Jorgenson (Jr., UT, Thunder Bay, Ontario), Scott Finberg (Jr., 3B, Stillwater, Minn.), Bobby Chu (Jr., C, Redwood City, Calif.), Brock Reller (So., OF, Grand Forks, N.D.), and Mason Ruhlman (Jr., 2B, Algonac, Mich.).

    On the mound, Minnesota Crookston is paced by returning starters Zach Rustad (Sr., LHP, Blaine, Minn.), and Jayden Grover (Jr., RHP, Cooperstown, N.D.). Rustad went 2-6 with a 5.56 ERA in 52.2 innings pitched with 65 strikeouts and 34 walks. Grover posted a 4-4 mark and a 5.56 ERA in 45.1 innings on the bump.

    In addition, Louis Gerzin (Sr., RHP, Ely, Minn.) returns after going 1-0 with a 3.50 ERA in 18.0 innings pitched. Aaron Hollcraft (Sr., LHP, Crookston, Minn.) is currently with the men’s basketball team but went 2-1 with a 4.00 ERA last season. Graeme Cherry (Jr., LHP, Millarville, Alberta) notched a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA in 25.0 innings on the mound. Dalton Grose (R-So., LHP, Waterville, Minn.) went 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in nine innings pitched. Esten Beneda (R-Jr., RHP, Lankin, N.D.) posted a 3.60 ERA in 15.0 innings pitched, while Nate Albrecht (Sr., LHP, Wahpeton, N.D.) was 1-0 with a 8.31 ERA in 4.1 innings pitched after returning from Tommy John surgery.

    The Golden Eagles will also look to several newcomers for their pitching staff including: Matt Nelson (Fr., RHP, Afton, Minn.), Garrett Hohn (Jr., RHP, Wausau, Wis.), Conner Richardson (Fr., RHP, Grand Forks, Minn.), and Tyler Hegg (Fr., RHP, Thompson, N.D.).

   Minnesota Crookston is in their fifth season under Head Coach Steve Gust entering the 2019 season.

Central Missouri Preview

    The Mules come into the week with a 2-4 mark. Central Missouri is coming off a 39-17 record in the 2018 season. The Mules played in the NCAA Central Regional in 2018 before losing to eventual National Champion Augustana University, and top-seed Southern Arkansas University.

    Central Missouri is hitting .254 on the season with 37 runs scored, eight doubles, two triples, four home runs and 37 RBIs. The Mules are led by Erik Webb with a .417 batting average, four runs scored, three doubles, one triple, two home runs and nine RBIs. Mason Janvrin comes in batting .360 with seven runs scored and four RBIs. Alex Madera is hitting .304 with three runs scored, and five RBIS. Kole Ficken comes in batting .294 with four runs scored.

    On the mound, Central Missouri is paced by Coby Seiz, who is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in six innings on the bump. Seiz has eight strikeouts to just one walk on the season. He has posted one save on the year. Jonathan Sprinkle is 0-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 6.1 innings pitched with eight strikeouts and one walk. Ben Kelsch has posted a 1-1 record with a 4.15 ERA in six innings on the bump.