FARGO, ND (KWSN) – South Dakota State received strong pitching, solid defense and timely hitting to sweep a doubleheader from North Dakota State Friday afternoon at Newman Outdoor Field, clinching the top seed in next week’s Summit League Baseball Championship.
The Jackrabbits, who improved to 27-26 overall and 11-10 in league play, won by scores of 5-1 and 6-1. SDSU secured the top seed for the May 22-24 tournament in Sioux Falls after Western Illinois lost both ends of a doubleheader to Omaha, which clinched the regular season title but is not eligible for the tournament as it continues its reclassification to NCAA Division I. The Jackrabbits hold the tiebreaker over Western Illinois should the two teams tie in the standings.
SDSU and North Dakota State traded first-inning runs in the opener before the Jackrabbits took control. The Jackrabbit run came without a hit as Scott Splett walked and Paul Jacobson and Eric Danforth were each by a pitch. Splett later scored on a passed ball.
The lone Bison run of the opener came in the bottom of the first inning on a run-scoring single by Kyle Kleinendorst, who single in Jon Hechtner.
The Jacrkabbits took the lead with a two-run second inning. Again the rally started with a leadoff walk, this time to Sam Pack, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cody Sharrow and scored on Splett’s single through the right side. Tyler Shannon scored the other run of the inning on a groundout off the bat of Zach Coppola.
Pack, who was 2-for-3, pushed the Jackrabbit advantage to 4-1 in the third inning with a two-out double, then capped the SDSU scoring with a single in the fifth, plating Danforth both times.
SDSU starter Chris Anderson, who was making his first appearance since injuring his pitching hand two weeks ago, left after 2 1/3 innings. He allowed a run on three hits and two walks with one strikeout. Andrew Clemen, the reigning Summit League Pitcher of the Week, earned his second straight win after striking out six and scattering three hits over the final 4 2/3 innings.
Bison left-hander Parker Trewin lasted only three innings in taking the loss. He walked three and struck out three. Kyle Kleinendorst and Aiden Hook were each 2-for-3 for NDSU as hits were even between the two teams at six.
In Game 2, Chad Hodges carried a shutout into the eighth inning and the Jackrabbits again came up with clutch hits en route to a 6-1 victory.
Pack continued his hot streak, starting a two-run rally in the second inning with a leadoff single. He advanced to second base on an error and scored on a base hit by Cody Sharrow. Splett knocked in the second run of the inning with a two-out base hit.
SDSU put the game away in the late innings, scoring twice in the sixth inning as Holt and Reid Clary delivered two-out run-scoring singles. The Jackrabbits tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth innings as Clary scored on the back end of a double steal for the eighth-inning run and Aaron Machbitz hit a sacrifice fly for the last run of the game.
The Bison, 21-24 overall and 9-12 in The Summit League, got on the board against Hodges in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Tim Colwell. J.D. Moore entered with runners at the corners and one out, but worked out of the jam without allowing another run. Moore finished off the Jackrabbit sweep by pitching a perfect ninth inning for his eighth save of the season.
Hodges recorded his team-best seventh win of the season, striking out three and walking one. Moore also struck out three and walked one in his relief stint.
NDSU starter Trent Keefer, who retired 11 consecutive hitters in one stretch, suffered the loss after allowing four runs – two earned – on seven hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
The Jackrabbits held a 13-6 advantage in hits as Pack, Splett, Clary and Sharrow each notched two hits. Colwell and Hook tallied two hits apiece for NDSU.
The two teams are slated to wrap up regular season play Saturday with a 1 p.m. contest.
Game 1: SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 5, NORTH DAKOTA STATE 1
SDSU 121 010 0 5-6-0
NDSU 100 000 0 1-6-1
SDSU: Chris Anderson, Andrew Clemen (3) and Sam Pack. NDSU: Parker Trewin, Sean Terres (4) and Michael Leach.
W-Clemen (2-2). L-Trewin (6-2). Save-none.
Game 2: SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 6, NORTH DAKOTA STATE 1
SDSU 020 002 011 6-13-0
NDSU 000 000 010 1-6-1
SDSU: Chad Hodges, J.D. Moore (8) and Reid Clary. NDSU: Trent Keefer, Kevin Folman (7) and Michael Leach.
W-Hodges (7-5). L-Keefer (4-5). Save-Moore (8).
Courtesy: South Dakota State University