The North Dakota State baseball team lost a pair of games Thursday afternoon against South Dakota State. The Bison played a doubleheader on the campus of Augustana University in Sioux Falls and were scheduled to play a third game Friday, but it was cancelled. The contests were relocated due to unplayable field conditions in Brookings.
NDSU opened the first game with a two-run first inning. Mason Pierzchalski and Tucker Rohde both plated runs with doubles in support of starter Riley Johnson.
The Bison had a chance to build on their lead in the third inning with the bases loaded and two outs, but Jackrabbits hurler Brady Stover forced a line out from catcher Sean Noel to escape the inning unscathed. SDSU had the same opportunity in the bottom half of the frame after Johnson surrendered a double, hit a batter and allowed a walk. The righty struck out Jacks’ third baseman Newt Johnson to evade damage.
Stover was chased from the game in the fourth inning after walking Alec Abercrombie and issuing a single off the bat of Matt Elsenpeter. SDSU turned two after Stover’s departure, but with Abercrombie on third, second baseman Drew Fearing laced a single to center field to push the lead to 3-0.
Josh Falk tagged Johnson for a home run in the first at bat of the sixth inning to put the Jackrabbits on the board. In the following inning, Anthony Schneider doubled home pinch runner Philip Jacobson to narrow the Bison’s lead to one. NDSU manager Tod Brown lifted Johnson after the young pitcher allowed his second run. He finished the afternoon allowing eight hits, two walks and striking out six.
More trouble came for the Herd in the seventh. Kevin Folman was called in to mitigate the damage, but allowed two earned runs of his own off two RBI-singles, as the Jackrabbits took their first lead of the day.
NDSU appeared down for the count after Derek Feige struck out Fearing and Pierzchalski to put the Jacks within one out of a come-from-behind victory. However, junior right fielder Jayse McLean played hero for the Bison, drilling a solo shot over the wall in right-center field to knot the game at four.
After the first two runners reached base in the bottom of the ninth, NDSU was saved by a defensive play. Landon Badger drove a single back up the box, but Abercrombie gunned down Newt Johnson attempting to score from second. The jubilation ended quickly for Folman and the Bison when Gus Steiger singled in the winning run in the next at-bat.
Pitching let the Bison down in game two. NDSU opened up the scoring in the second inning with a two-run single off the bat of Elsenpeter. Pierzchalski drove in a run in the following frame, but solo home runs from SDSU in the bottom half of both frames meant the Bison only led 3-2.
Fearing ripped a triple into the gap in right-center to drive in two runs in the top of the fourth. A throwing error on the next at-bat allowed him to score, which pushed the Bison to a 6-2 advantage.
SDSU one-upped the Bison’s three-run inning with four of their own in the bottom half. Phil Velez’s triple drove in a run, and Steiger’s single scored Velez to make inroads into the visitor’s lead. Schneider drove in a run and then used crafty base running to tie the game. With runners on the corners, the Jacks executed a steal of home when Schneider took of for second and Jacobson bolted for home to tie the score.
Abercrombie launched a two-run homer in the top of the fifth, and Pierzchalski contributed a sacrifice fly to restore the Bison’s three-run lead.
Again though, the Jackrabbits responded.
Bison reliever Parker Harm loaded the bases to begin the home-half of the fifth, then plunked Velez to score a run. A fielder’s choice scored a second run in the inning and brought SDSU within a run. In the next inning, Falk tagged Harm for a two-run blast which gave the host a lead they would not relinquish.
The Jacks added two insurance runs in the eighth inning, and Alex Marro struck out the side in the top of the ninth to finish off SDSU’s 12-9 triumph.
The two losses saw NDSU fall to an overall record of 13-16 and 6-7 in Summit League action. They’ll open their long anticipated home season Tuesday against Valley City State.