UMC opens up conference play with doubleheader sweep of Winona State
Last spring, before a promising season was swept aside, the Minnesota Crookston baseball team was scheduled to take on Winona State on March 14 to open NSIC play.
That team never made it to Winona. The series, and ultimately the entire season, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This weekend, another promising UMC team got to take the trip last year's Golden Eagles didn't. They had waited 371 days to take on the NSIC, and it was clear by their play Saturday that they were tired of waiting.
Minnesota Crookston won two games over Winona State in Saturday's conference-opening doubleheader at Loughrey Field, winning the first game, 10-0, in seven innings before using a ninth-inning rally to cap off the day with a 12-11 victory.
UMC (6-0, 2-0 NSIC) breezed past the Warriors in the opener behind a sterling start by Jake Dykhoff. The junior right-hander pitched all seven innings, giving up just four hits and striking out 10.
Winona State's best chance came in the second inning, after Ben Bryant had singled home the first run for UMC. With two outs, Derek Baumgartner tried to come home on a single, but Dykhoff nailed him at the plate on the relay throw from left field. The Warriors didn't advance a runner past second base again.
The Golden Eagles scored four in the third inning. Three runs came on two straight Winona State errors, and Eli Jung homered to make it 5-0.
But the big blow came an inning later, when Brock Reller, recently named the NCBWA Central Region Player of the Week, hit his seventh home run of the year, a grand slam to right field.
UMC scored another run on an error in the seventh inning.
The Golden Eagles got off to a quick start in the second game, scoring two runs in the second, but the Warriors (3-4, 0-2) jumped on starting pitcher Matt Nelson in the third inning. They hit three singles and drew two walks to start the frame, and a two-RBI triple by Joe Ihrke made it 6-2.
Minnesota Crookston came back with a four-run inning of its own in the sixth inning. Will Zimmerman doubled to left field, driving in two runs and tying the game at 6-6.
Winona State responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning off an RBI single and RBI double. In the seventh inning, Irhke homered to make it 9-6.
But down to their last three outs, the Golden Eagles didn't go away. Scott Finberg drew a walk, Jake Hjelle got on base due to an error and Bobby Chu drew another walk. Eli Jung singled home Finberg, and a wild pitch to Landyn Swenson allowed Hjelle to score. Swenson was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, and Zimmerman emptied them with a double, giving UMC the lead at 11-9.
Zimmerman capped off the inning by scoring on a passed ball. That extra run proved crucial, as Tanner Williams' double with two outs in the ninth made it 12-11 and put the tying and winning runs on third and second base, respectively. Brody Sorenson, however, induced a fly ball to centerfield for the final out.
The Golden Eagles sent seven pitchers to the mound in the second game. Jake Osowski picked up the win by pitching a scoreless eighth inning.
At the plate, UMC was led in the first game by Reller, who reached base in all four of his plate appearances and drove in four runs. Parker Stroh also had a multi-hit game. In the second game, Zimmerman went 2-for-5 with five RBIs to lead the way, and Finberg went 3-for-4 with a double. UMC also benefited from six Winona State errors, three in each game.
The Golden Eagles have scored at least 10 runs in every game this season. Their average of 14.5 runs per game ranks third in Division II, and their batting average of .335 ranks 21st.
UP NEXT: UMC and Winona State play again Sunday at 12 p.m.
MINNESOTA CROOKSTON 10, WINONA STATE 0
Minnesota Crookston 0-1-4-4-0-0-1—10-7-0
Winona State 0-0-0-0-0-0-0—0-4-3
- WP: Jake Dykhoff (7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K)
- LP: Kyle Gendron (3.0 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K)
MINNESOTA CROOKSTON 12, WINONA STATE 11
Minnesota Crookston 0-2-0-0-0-4-0-0-6—12-8-1
Winona State 0-1-5-0-0-2-1-0-2—11-15-3
- WP: Jake Osowski (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)
- LP: Nicholas Herold (0.1 IP, 2 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)
- SV: Brody Sorenson (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)
The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730 or sports editor Jacob Shames at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow along on Twitter @crookstonsports and @Jacob_Shames for all the latest stories and live game updates.