When it comes to midweek baseball, it can be an odd affair.
When North Dakota State hosted Valley City State on Tuesday, the saying was true. The Bison went on to win the contest 8-3, but the game was closer than the box score suggests.
The Bison bats started off hot as NDSU shell-shocked Vikings starting pitcher Shaun Kourajian. Kourajian struggled with control, hitting leadoff man Bennett Hostetler and walking Drew Fearing.
A pitch in the dirt advanced the runners and the pair were bought home by Mason Pierzchalski’s single up the middle. Kourajian was pulled after the opening runs crossed the plate.
Pierzchalski then crossed the plate when a hard-hit ground ball off JT Core’s bat evaded the Vikings’ second baseman.
The Bison added one more with a Tucker Rohde single to be the driver’s seat 4-0 after one inning.
Grant Wehseler was not up for the Bison heading into cruise control. The Valley City designated hitter came up with the bases loaded on freshman pitcher Riley Johnson in the second.
Wehseler tagged Johnson’s first pitch to the center field fence, clearing the bases with a double.
The Vikings were within one, but a leadoff triple from Alex Abercrombie put the pressure on Valley City. Hostetler hit a deep drive to right field and Abercrombie was able to tag to restore a two-run lead.
The game had all the makings of a shootout, but that never developed.
Both teams looked to preserve their big arms during the game and work plenty of pitchers from the bullpen.
The first guy from the bullpen the Bison turned to was the most efficient. Kyle Ferderer, making just his eighth appearance of the season, pitched a solid two innings.
The freshman faced just seven hitters in two innings, striking out four and allowing just one hit.
Dalton England worked a similar stat line. But for the freshman in his fifth appearance, there was more drama.
England gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Brady Anderson. Anderson then took second on a wild pitch. But Anderson was then caught leaning as Ben Bruenjas hit a soft line drive to short and was doubled up.
England’s second inning of work was more difficult. Following a leadoff single by Anthony Necochea, Wehseler hit his second double of the day.
With two runners in scoring position and one out, England was helped by his middle infielders. Matt Elsenpeter made a leaping grab to rob Bradyn Sand of a hit.
The next batter, Jared Meiklejohn, hit a grounder into the hole up the middle, but Hostetler ranged to his left to throw out Meiklejohn to end the threat.
That would be the closest the Vikings would get to the Bison, who killed the game off in the eighth.
Tucker Rohde, who got the start in place of the resting Danny Palmiscno, added the first run of insurance with a single to right field in the eighth. The hit scored Core to extend the lead to three.
NDSU’s freshmen were not done in the inning, as Hostetler crushed a ball to left field for a two-run home run. The blast was just the second of the year for the shortstop.
That finished the Vikings as NDSU improved to 22-21 on the season. The Bison now host Summit League leading Oral Roberts in a three-game series at 6:30 p.m. Friday.