Minnesota Crookston moves to 25-18 (17-11 NSIC).
BEMIDJI, Minn. – The University of Minnesota Crookston baseball team competed a four-game sweep of Bemidji State University with a 7-6 win in game one and 5-0 victory in game two. The two wins ties the school record for wins for the Golden Eagles previously set during the 2016 season.
The first game was a NSIC tilt, while the second tilt was a non-conference bout. Minnesota Crookston moves to 25-18 (17-11 NSIC) with the sweep. Bemidji State drops to 6-34 (5-22 NSIC) with the pair of losses. The Golden Eagles are one win away from matching the school record for conference wins also set in 2016.
The first win clinched the third NSIC Tournament berth for Minnesota Crookston in four years as none of the teams outside of the top eight can have over a .500 conference record, and the Golden Eagles are now guaranteed to have an over .500 mark in NSIC play.
Minnesota Crookston scored four runs in the top of the ninth, including Ben Thoma’s (So., C/SS, Clearbrook, Minn.) game-winning single to score Brock Reller (So., OF, Grand Forks, Minn.). In the bottom half of the ninth, Bemidji State put up a threat including a rocket to right field but Reller made a great play to preserve the win and help Dalton Grose (R-So., LHP, Waterville, Minn.) to his school-record tying 12th save, which matches Zach Seipel, a minor league pitcher for the Atlanta Braves system.
Matt Nelson (Fr., RHP, Afton, Minn.) got his first collegiate win after throwing 5.2 innings of relief, and allowing just one run on five hits with seven strikeouts and a walk. Grose got the save in one inning after giving up no runs on one hit with one strikeout.
Conner Richardson (Fr., RHP, Grand Forks, N.D.) got the start but ran into some trouble. Richardson allowed three earned runs on six hits in two innings of work with three strikeouts and two walks.
The loss went to Tommy Geisenhof in relief, as he gave up four runs on three hits in one inning. Alex Meyer started the game and had the no-decision after allowing three runs on four hits in five frames.
Minnesota Crookston was paced by Reller, who went 1-of-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Griffin Fussy (R-So., SS, Ham Lake, Minn.), who was 2-of-5. Scott Finberg (Jr., 3B, Stillwater, Minn.) went 2-of-5 with one RBI and one run scored. Hjelle was 1-of-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Bemidji State opened up the bottom of the first with a threat as Jacob Carlson singled up the middle to open up the inning. A walk offered to Isaiah Grancorvitz gave the Beavers two on with one out. A passed ball pushed both runners into scoring position. A Matt Kummet single to left field plated Carlson to put Bemidji State up 1-0. In the next at-bat, Kade Nelson reached on a fielder’s choice and drove in Grancorvitz to extend the lead out to 2-0. Two batters later, Drake Wawro reached on an error at first base to plate Nelson. Cody Carlson then drilled a line drive off Richardson, the pitcher for the Golden Eagles, scoring Blake Huntley to widen the gap to 4-0. Minnesota Crookston was able to get out of the stanza but not without damage done.
The Golden Eagles looked to respond as Reller was hit by a pitch, and Jonathan Lund reached on a fielder’s choice to give Minnesota Crookston two on with one out. Finberg answered with a clutch double down the left field line to plate Reller and trim the deficit to 4-1. Swenson then delivered a two RBI single into the gap in right center to drive in Jonathan Lund (Sr., 1B/3B, Tolna, N.D.) and Finberg to cut the lead to 4-3. The Golden Eagles looked to tie up the game when Fussy singled to left field but Nelson showed off his strong arm as he dialed in and threw out the speedy Swenson at the plate.
The Beavers looked to counter Minnesota Crookston’s response as Grancorvitz doubled and Kummet walked as the middle of the order looked to do damage in the bottom of the second. The pair of base runners moved into scoring position on a double steal with two outs. Richardson would get out of trouble as he got the final out of the inning to keep the deficit at 4-3.
The Beavers extended the lead to 5-3 as Wyatt White put down a perfect bunt to the left side and drove in Wawro. Nelson got the Golden Eagles out of trouble with two runners stranded on base for Bemidji State.
Bemidji State added to their tally in the fourth with a Kummet solo shot to make it 6-3. The Beavers loaded the bases later in the stanza but Minnesota Crookston was able to pitch out of trouble.
The Golden Eagles were seeking a response in the top of the fifth as Fussy singled to center field, and Hjelle walked to give two on with one out. Minnesota Crookston stranded both runners as the score remained at 6-3 in favor of Bemidji State.
Nelson mowed through the Beaver line-up in the bottom of the fifth to keep the score at 6-3.
The Golden Eagles got two on in the top of the sixth with a single from Finberg and a walk offered to Landyn Swenson (Jr., OF, Devils Lake, N.D>). However, Minnesota Crookston stranded both runners to keep the score at 6-3.
The Golden Eagles looked to make a dent in the lead in the top of the eighth as pinch-hitter Travis Conoryea (R-So., OF/C, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) walked, as did Thoma. Reliever Geisenhof got out of the peril as he got a double play ball as Minnesota Crookston left two runners on the bases.
Minnesota Crookston had one more chance to counter in the top of the ninth. Swenson began the stanza with a walk to give the Golden Eagles hope. Bryce Jorgenson (Jr., UT, Thunder Bay, Ontario) moved Swenson over to second with a single with no outs. A wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position. Hjelle beat out an infield single and drove in Swenson to cut the lead to 6-4 with one out. Hjelle took second with a stolen base to give Minnesota Crookston two runners in scoring position with the game-winning run at the plate. Reller delivered a two RBI single to plate Hjelle and Jorgenson to knot the game up 6-6. Minnesota Crookston came back and took the 7-6 lead with a Thoma RBI single to score Reller.
Grose came on in the bottom of the ninth to look to shut the door on Bemidji State. The Beavers had a chance as Blake Huntley led the inning off with a single. With two outs, Koty Kissack walked to give Bemidji State two on and the game-tying run in scoring position. Carlson launched one into right field, but Reller made a great running catch to retire Bemidji State’s hitter and preserve the 7-6 win and earn his 12th save of the season.
Minnesota Crookston utilized three runs in the second, and two runs in the sixth to take down Bemidji State 5-0 in the non-conference game. In addition, Henry Pesch (Jr., RHP, Minneota, Minn.), the Golden Eagle submarine pitcher, tossed a two-hit shutout in his first Golden Eagle start.
Minnesota Crookston was paced by Hunter Baldwin (Sr., 3B/1B, St. Thomas, N.D>), who went 1-of-3 with two runs scored. Lund went 2-of-4 with a run scored, while Hjelle was 2-of-3 with one RBI. Reller finished game two 2-of-4.
Pesch got the win after tossing a two-hit shutout in a complete game with one strikeout.
Ethan Webb suffered the loss after allowing two earned runs on five hits in four innings with one strikeout and two walks.
The Golden Eagles looked to have at least one run in the top of the second as Ruhlman powered one to the deepest part of the field but Wyatt White but a great play at the fence to get the out. Minnesota Crookston still persisted as Baldwin extended the inning with a single through the right side. The first run of the inning came in as Lund scored on a wild pitch The Golden Eagles got a run despite a great play at third by Carlson as Thoma crossed 2-0. Carlson was not able to make as good of a play on the next play as his error allowed Baldwin to score and extend the lead to 3-0. The Beavers got out of further trouble but not without Bemidji State taking the 3-0 lead.
The game remained a 3-0 going into the top of the sixth until Minnesota Crookston broke the run of scoreless innings as Jorgenson singled and Baldwin came into score on an error at third base to push the advantage out to 4-0. Minnesota Crookston extended their lead to 5-0 as Hjelle laced a single to left field to score Bobby Chu and widen the gap to 5-0. The Beavers stopped the scoring streak in the frame as the game moved into the bottom of the sixth.
Pesch continued his great outing and preserved the 5-0 win for the Golden Eagles as they earned the series sweep.
Minnesota Crookston wraps up the season with five games next week at home against University of Minnesota Duluth and Minot State University as they look to end the regular-season on a strong note going into the NSIC Tournament.