St. Cloud State out-hit Minnesota Crookston 24-7 on the day.
CROOKSTON - Minnesota Crookston's box score showed three errors in the series-opening game against No. 5 St. Cloud State, but it also showed a 5-3 win. In the doubleheader to complete the series, the Golden Eagles combined for five errors across two games resulting in seven unearned runs and a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Huskies.
Blake Flint (Jr. RHP) dominated the Minnesota Crookston bats, Huskies hitters took advantage of miscues and St. Cloud State (30-7, 18-5 NSIC) beat the Golden Eagles 9-0 in seven innings to even the series.
Through five innings, Flint limited the Golden Eagles (21-15, 14-8 NSIC) to one baserunner and did not allow a hit until the fourth inning. The junior finished the day with nine strikeouts as he improved to 8-2.
Golden Eagles starter, Jayden Grover (Jr. RHP), experienced his fair share of bad luck. Grover made it through 4.1 innings allowing eight runs, five earned, but was plagued by an unfortunate first inning.
Grover came a strike away from pitching a clean first inning before Mathew Meyer (Sr. 1B) lunged for a breaking pitch and blooped the ball into center to score Najee Gaskins (Jr. CF) for a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Caeden Harris (Sr. LF), popped up the ball behind the first base bag, but Reed Hjelle (Sr. 1B) and Mason Ruhlman (Jr. 2B) had a miscommunication, and what should have been the third out fell untouched in fair territory.
A wild pitch moved both runners up 90 feet, and Jordan Joseph (Sr. SS) hit a 3-2 pitch into right for a two-out two-RBI single. Matt Quade (Jr. 3B) capped off the two-out rally with a double down the left field line for a 4-0 lead. After all was said and done, Grover had thrown 44 pitches in the opening inning.
"I think that set the tone for the day," Golden Eagles Head Coach Steve Gust said. "We had a chance to get out with two outs, and we just couldn't make the pitch or make the play. If we're going to make a run at this, our starts and our finishes have to be good. We've had some trouble with our starts as of late."
Grover cruised through the next two innings allowing one hit and performed a Houdini act in the top of the fourth escaping a bases loaded, no outs situation unscathed.
The Huskies eventually chased Grover in the fifth frame with a Mitch Mallek (Sr. RF) homer and loaded bases on two errors. Tyler Hegg (Fr. RHP) relieved Grover, and Toran Shahidi (Sr. C) delivered the knock-out punch with a bases-clearing triple for an 8-0 lead.
"You can have some errors, you can have some walks, but when you put those things together against a good team, that's disastrous," Gust said. "We had too many walks, too many errors. You give good teams free bases, they'll take advantage of it."
Joseph added one RBI on a double in the sixth to bring his game total to three. Shahidi also drove in a trio of runs.
The hot bats of the Huskies from Game 1 carried over to the second part of the twin bill, and St. Cloud State completed a series win and a doubleheader sweep with a 12-2 victory over Minnesota Crookston.
Sheldon Miks (Sr. LHP) (7-1) provided the Huskies (31-7, 19-5 NSIC) with another solid effort on the mound going six innings, giving up two and striking out eight.
Miks continued a dominating day for the Huskies' pitchers as their starters allowed six hits in 11 innings, and the bullpen surrendered just one in four frames. St. Cloud State pitchers also struck out Minnesota Crookston hitters 22 times.
"They're good," Gust said. "They're top of the line pitchers in the NSIC. Combined, I think they were 11-2 on the year, and they were good. They were around the zone, and they mixed it up. They gave us all kinds of trouble. A lot of it was our offense, but you've got to give credit to their pitchers."
Conner Richardson (Fr. RHP) (1-1) took the loss for Minnesota Crookston (21-16, 14-9 NSIC) finishing with a line of 4.1 innings, five runs, eight hits and three strike outs.
After grabbing a 2-0 lead, Najee Gaskins (Jr. CF) doubled the lead on a two-run homer to left field, and the Huskies led 4-0 in the second inning.
The Golden Eagles cut into the deficit in the fourth inning on a Ben Thoma (So. C) sacrifice fly and an RBI single from Scott Finberg (Jr. 3B). Mason Ruhlman came up to the plate representing the tying run, but a ground out to second ended the threat.
St. Cloud State began to pile it on in the sixth frame. Although the Huskies only recorded two hits in the inning, they plated six due to three bases loaded walks and a wild pitch which made it 11-2.
The Huskies enforced the mercy rule after a sac-fly from Joseph, and the game was called after eight innings when Minnesota Crookston could not get a run across.
"We got it taken to us today," Gust said. "Good teams are going to come back after a tough loss, and that's what St. Cloud State did. They just beat us in every phase of the game today. Simple as that."
The Golden Eagles will next head to Moorhead for a doubleheader against Northern State on Wednesday, April 24. Start times are set for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Lenny Walker (DH)
Ean Von Wald (PH)
0TOTALS 35 12 12 11 8 5 12 PITCHERS IP H R ER BB K Sheldon Miks (W, 7-1) 6.0 5 2 2 0 8 Riley Ahern 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 Matt Butler 1.0 0 0 0 1 2 TOTALS 8.0 5 2 2 1 12 Minnesota Crookston AB R H RBI BB SO LOB Bryce Jorgenson (LF) 4 0 0 0 0 3 1 Griffin Fussy (SS) 4 1 1 0 0 2 0 Reed Hjelle (1B) 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 Brock Reller (RF) 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 Ben Thoma (C) 2 0 0 1 0 1 0 Jonathan Lund (DH) 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 Scott Finberg (3B) 3 0 1 1 0 1 0 Mason Ruhlman (2B) 3 0 1 0 0 1 2 Landyn Swenson (CF) 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 TOTALS 28 2 5 2 1 12 4 PITCHERS IP H R ER BB K Conner Richardson (L, 1-1) 4.1 8 5 5 2 3 Aaron Hollcraft 1.0 2 3 2 1 1 Louis Gerzin 0.2 0 3 0 4 1 Esten Beneda 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 Garrett Hohn 1.0 2 1 1 0 0 TOTALS 8.0 12 12 8 8 5
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