Bison earn sixth series win in a row
Playing in the biggest series of the year thus far, the North Dakota State men’s baseball team went into Tulsa, Okla., and beat the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles twice on Saturday to retake their lead in the Summit League Standings. On Friday night, ORU had their way, collecting 13 hits en route to a 10-4 victory. However, it was all Bison on Saturday, as Cade Feeney and Co. shut down the Eagles in the first contest to win 2-1, and the Herd used a six-run second inning to propel them to a 10-2 win in game two.
In Friday night’s contest, the Golden Eagles got things going with three runs in the opening frame after Holden Breeze ripped an RBI double. In the second inning, leading 3-0, the Golden Eagles kept the pressure on, as they scored three more runs off NDSU starting pitcher Max Loven, pushing the score to 6-0.
Not wanting to go down without a fight, Brock Anderson got the Bison on the board with an RBI single to make it 1-0. To add to that, Druw Sackett cranked a two-RBI double into left to narrow the lead, and Peter Brookshaw finished the inning with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4, ORU. After the Bison responded with four runs, the Golden Eagles collected three runs for the third consecutive frame in the bottom of the third, increasing their lead to 9-4.
NDSU loaded the bases up in the seventh thanks to some walked batters but was unable to score. In the eighth, ORU added another run off the bat of Jackson Loftin, to finish the scoring at 10-4.
At the plate, the Bison collected 10 hits but struggled with runners in scoring position on Friday night. Charley Hesse had a game-high three hits on four at-bats and tallied a run to lead the way.
Righty Max Loven (5-3) received the start and went two innings giving up nine earned runs. Reliever Wyatt Nelson entered the game in the third and pitched a career-high five innings, keeping the Golden Eagles off the scoreboard while giving up one walk.
In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Oral Roberts shot out to a 1-0 lead following a fielding error committed by the Bison that scored Jackson Loftin. Two innings later, Brock Anderson responded for North Dakota State with a booming double that scored teammate Cadyn Schwabe to even the game at 1-1.
The Bison loaded up the bases in the seventh inning. NDSU’s Garret Hill was hit by ORU pitcher Ledgend Smith’s pitch, which allowed Logan Williams to trot the 90 feet to home and make the score 2-1. Wanting to preserve the one-run lead in the final frame, NDSU Head Coach Tyler Oakes made the call to bring in closer Jake Drew, who got the job done, successfully retiring three batters to end the game.
Thanks to the pitching staff, the Bison bats did not need to produce much on early Saturday afternoon, as their two runs off of six hits provided enough cushion. Cadyn Schwabe (2-4) lead the way for his team, tallying a run as well.
On the mound, North Dakota native Cade Feeney (3.52 ERA) continued his solid sophomore year, tossing five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings on his way to his fifth win. Relief pitcher Skyler Riedinger, who was a high school teammate of Feeney’s at Century High in Bismarck, N.D., took the hill in the sixth and tossed one strikeout before closer Jake Drew entered the game. Drew, who picked up his sixth save on the year, moves into ninth place on the NDSU all-time single-season saves list.
In the deciding contest on Saturday afternoon, NDSU wasted no time getting on the board. Charley Hesse started the scoring in the first with an RBI double that scored Druw Sackett. After the Golden Eagles scored a run of their own in the bottom half of inning one, the Herd exploded for a six-run second inning to push the score to 7-1. In the big inning, Terrell Huggins reached home off a throwing error, Garret Hill and Charley Hesse hit RBI singles, then Brock Anderson and Peter Brookshaw each cranked RBI doubles to pace the attack.
In the fifth inning, the Bison yet again capitalized off ORU pitching woes, as Terrell Huggins scored on a wild pitch and Will Busch scored when Brock Anderson walked with the bases loaded. While the Bison offense dominated at the plate, pitchers Evan Sankey and Tristen Roehrich were also solid on the mound, limiting the Golden Eagles to two runs and five hits. In the final frame, Druw Sackett put an exclamation point on the 10-2 victory when he ripped an RBI double to left-center.
Collecting 15 hits as a team, the Bison offense had six different players post a two-hit outing. Druw Sackett went 3-5 at the plate with one run and RBI, and Charley Hesse hit 2-4 with two RBIs to lead the way for the Herd.
Evan Sankey (4.32 ERA) grabbed his fourth win of the year on Saturday afternoon, firing three strikeouts over six innings of work. Reliever Tristen Roehrich (2.19 ERA) closed the game by tossing three strikeouts over the last three innings on his way to his fifth save on the season.
With series wins over Oral Roberts (23-14, 8-4 Summit) and Omaha (19-18, 10-5 Summit) in consecutive weekends, NDSU (23-11, 11-4 Summit) has now created a little breathing room in conference play heading into the back half of the season. Despite playing all their games away from home, the Bison have a chance to be Summit League regular-season champions for the first time in program history.
This week, the Bison will get another chance to take the field at Newman Outdoor Stadium in Fargo, as they are scheduled to play in-state foe Valley City State on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. Following that, the Herd will take their talents down to Brookings, S.D., to take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (15-17, 7-5 Summit) in a three-game series next weekend. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.