Minnesota Crookston moves to 20-14,13-7 NSIC.

Game 1

By: Nolan Beilstein

CROOKSTON, Minn. - In the warmest game of the season held in Crookston, 55 degrees at first pitch, the University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles and Southwest Minnesota State University Mustangs could not put together enough swings for an offensive battle. The biggest swing of the afternoon came off the bat of Jonathan Lund (Sr. DH) when the pinch hitter golfed the first pitch he saw from Teddy Broxterman (So. LHP) over the left field fence. The homer proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 victory.

    “They went with the lefty, so we went with the right-handed hitter,” Golden Eagles Head Coach Steve Gust said. "[Lund’s] a senior, he stays in games, he studies pitchers and he knew what he was looking for. He got it, and he didn’t miss it.”

    For Lund, the solo shot was his first big knock of the season and his third RBI on the year. It came at the right time as the Golden Eagles (20-13, 13-6 NSIC), who collected four hits, struggled against the Mustangs (5-19, 4-15 NSIC), who sit in last place in the NSIC standings.

    For the better part of six innings, Mustangs starter Spencer Schroeder (So. RHP) had the Minnesota Crookston batters off balance. Schroeder produced weak contact and scattered three hits while allowing one run and punching out five.

    “He was spotting his pitches really well,” Gust said. “And not just one. He was throwing his breaking pitch wherever he wanted. He was spot on, he was good. If you can locate two pitches well, you’re going to give your team a chance. He was really good at locating.”

    The third and final hit allowed by Schroeder, his only crucial mistake of the day, came courtesy of Griffin Fussy (R-So. SS) in the fifth inning. Schroeder managed to retire the first two batters of the frame and should have walked to the dugout setting down the Golden Eagles in order if not for an error on Kip Gronholz (Fr. 3B).

    After a hit batter, Fussy came up and worked a full count before driving the payoff pitch to right to tie the game at 1-1.

    “He saw a lot of pitches before that, and he just got the barrel to the baseball,” Gust said. “That’s what we didn’t do a lot of, but he did that at-bat, and that paid off in the long haul.”

    On the rubber for the Golden Eagles, Nate Albrecht (Sr. LHP), who entered the game with an opposing batting average of .312, kept the quiet Minnesota Crookston bats in the game.

    The Mustangs got to Albrecht in the opening frame on a Jayden Fleck (Sr. 2B) RBI single, but Albrecht recovered to finish his outing with a line of 5.1 innings pitched, seven hits, five strikeouts and no walks.

    “That’s what you’re going to get from Nate,” Gust said. “He was competing, he was pounding the zone and he was making them earn what they got. He’s not flashy, and he’s not overpowering, but he just goes out there and pitches. He did a great job of keeping us in the game.”

    Louis Gerzin (Sr. RHP), the winning pitcher on the afternoon, entered the game in the sixth inning as the Mustangs threatened to take the lead with men on second and third and one out. A groundout to short brought up Robbie Smith (Sr. DH) with a chance for a clutch hit, but Gerzin fanned the senior to keep the game tied.

    With the Mustangs down to their last three outs, the Golden Eagles brought in their closer, Dalton Grose (R-So. LHP). Grose allowed two to reach via a walk and a single, but struck out the side to earn his eighth save of the season.

    “That’s a pretty gritty effort not only by Lundy, but also Louis getting a big out there with runners on second and third,” Gust said. “And then Grose there at the end and our starter, Nate. There was a lot of gritty effort. It certainly wasn’t pretty today, but we found a way to get the job done.”

Game 2

By Shawn Smith, UMN Crookston Athletics

CROOKSTON, Minn. - Minnesota Crookston held a 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the fourth of game two, but Southwest Minnesota State scored eight runs in the final five innings as they upended the Golden Eagles 9-8. The Mustangs took the game on a Brady Lanoue (Jr. 1B) walk-off double, as he drove in Smith to send Southwest Minnesota State to victory.

    Minnesota Crookston (20-14, 13-7 NSIC) struggled on the mound as they gave up eight earned runs with six walks and 11 hits allowed. Graeme Cherry (Jr., LHP) got the start and allowed five runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings with one strikeout.

    Aaron Hollcraft (Sr. LHP) came on in relief and allowed three runs on three hits. Minnesota Crookston had a strong stint of four pitchers to didn’t allow a run as Garrett Hohn (Jr. RHP), Tyler Hegg (Fr. RHP), Matt Nelson (Fr. RHP), and Gerzin kept the Mustangs tamed.

    Grose suffered the loss, as he moved to 2-1 after allowing an unearned run on one hit in 0.2 innings with one strikeout.

    James Hardy (So. RHP) struggled in the start for Southwest Minnesota State, allowing three runs on three walks and two wild pitches. John Bezdicek (So. LHP) allowed two runs on three hits in two innings of work, while Alex Jorgensen (Sr. RHP) allowed two runs on four hits in 3.1 innings on the mound.

    The win for the Mustangs (6-19, 5-15 NSIC) went to Cole Petersen (Sr. LHP), who gave up just one run on three hits in 2.2 innings. Petersen struck out four and walked just one.

    Minnesota Crookston had 10 hits on the game. The Golden Eagles had five runs scored on either wild pitches or passed balls, as the Mustang pitchers struggled with their control. Mason Ruhlman (Jr. 2B) paced the Golden Eagles by going 2-of-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Fussy finished the game 2-of-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Scott Finberg (Jr. 3B) was 2-of-5 with an RBI. Reed Hjelle (Sr. 1B) went 1-of-2 with two runs scored.

    The Mustangs were paced by Ben Heichel (Jr. RF) went 2-of-5 with two runs scored. Lanoue went 2-of-2 with two RBIs, including the walk-off hit. Jake Hendricks (So. 3B) went 1-of-2 with three RBIS and a run scored.

    Minnesota Crookston remains at home as they take on No. 4 St. Cloud State University Fri., April 19 and Sat., April 20 at UMC Baseball Field in Crookston, Minn.

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For feedback or questions, contact the Times at (218) 281-2730, Nolan Beilstein at (940) 372-8175 or by email at nbeilstein@crookstontimes.com.