Ninth-inning rally pushes UMC past Minot State, 10-6, in NSIC Tournament

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times
Brock Reller during a game against Concordia-St. Paul on April 11. Reller hit the go-ahead two-run double in UMC's 10-6 win over Minot State in the NSIC Tournament on Thursday.

The Minnesota Crookston baseball team had one last gasp. It made the most of it.

Down 6-5 heading into the ninth inning, the Golden Eagles put five runs on the board to stun Minot State, winning the first game of the first round of the NSIC Tournament, 10-6, Thursday afternoon in Minot, N.D.

While UMC has made it to four out of the last five NSIC Tournaments dating back to 2016, Thursday's win is the Golden Eagles' first on this stage. They lost both of their games in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

The first round is a best-of-three series, meaning that UMC (24-10, 19-10 NSIC) will need to win one more game tomorrow to advance to the next round of the tournament.

The Golden Eagles dropped two out of three to the Beavers (24-16, 22-13) last weekend, meaning they had to travel to Minot as the No. 5 seed to take on No. 4 Minot State. 

Power was the story early on. After the Beavers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, Mason Ruhlman drove a three-run homer with two outs in the third inning. But in the ensuing half inning, Minot State struck back with back-to-back homers to tie the score.

Jake Hjelle gave UMC the lead right back with a solo shot in the fourth inning. Two innings later, Scott Finberg and Hjelle ripped consecutive doubles, Finberg crossing the plate to make it 5-3.

The Golden Eagles sent right-hander Jake Dykhoff back on the mound in what would be his longest outing of the season by pitch count. But the right-hander couldn't hold onto the lead, allowing a two-run double to Matt Malone which tied the score, and the Beavers took the lead back on a single by Nolan Monthei.

UMC and Minot State's bullpens pitched two scoreless frames apiece before the Golden Eagles struck in the ninth. It started at the bottom of their order when Parker Stroh, pinch-hitting for Bobby Chu, led off with a single. After a strikeout, Ben Bryant and Will Zimmerman drew consecutive four-pitch walks to load the bases.

Ruhlman, already with a three-hit day under his belt, didn't need another. Instead, he lofted a fly ball into right field, deep enough to score Stroh on a sacrifice fly and tie the game.

Brock Reller and Finberg took over from there. Reller hit a hard bouncer into the outfield to drive in two more runs, and Finberg crushed a no-doubt homer two pitches later to make it 10-6.

Jackson Schneider was credited with the win after pitching a scoreless eighth inning. Brody Sorenson allowed a leadoff single in the ninth, but Bryant made a diving stop at short and turned it into a highlight-reel 6-4-3 double play to help Sorenson earn the save.

The Golden Eagles had 13 hits in the contest. Ruhlman had three of them, driving in four runs, while Hjelle also went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Chu and Finberg also had multiple-hit games.

On the mound, Dykhoff struck out seven in 5.1 innings, while Tyler Hegg struck out three in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.

UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles and Beavers will be back in action Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.

If UMC wins, it will advance to the next round of the NSIC Tournament next week in Sioux Falls, S.D. If Minot State wins, it will set up a third and deciding game immediately following the second game, with the winner moving on.

MINNESOTA CROOKSTON 10, MINOT STATE 6

Minnesota Crookston 0-0-3-1-0-1-0-0-5—10-13-1

Minot State 0-1-2-0-0-3-0-0-0—6-9-0

  • WP: Jackson Schneider (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K)
  • LP: Aaron Kern (1.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)
  • SV: Brody Sorenson (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K)

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