BASEBALL: Bemidji State gets split with Southwest Minnesota State in home openers
BEMIDJI — Just hours after the Bemidji State baseball team extended its winning streak to nine straight, Southwest Minnesota State ended it as abruptly as it began.
Thanks to a 15-hit late-innings outburst, the Beavers defeated the Mustangs 10-3 in the first game of their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader Wednesday night at the BSU baseball diamond.
But in the second game, Southwest’s Travis McGlauflin threw an efficient nine-inning complete game to lift the Mustangs to a 6-1 win and snap BSU’s hot streak.
In all it was a good start to a six game homestand for the Beavers, who are now 21-17 overall and 12-10 in NSIC play and sit in seventh place in the conference standings going into the final weekend of the season. The top eight teams make next week’s conference playoffs.
Either way, with just four games to go in BSU’s regular season and with their destiny in their own hands, Beavers head coach Tim Bellew was happy with how his team played in its first home games of the season.
“Their kid pitched a good game (in game two),” he said. “He wasn’t overpowering but he was hitting his spots. We hit some balls very hard as the game went on, but right at people.
“It is what it is, what are you going to do? We won nine out of 10, which is pretty good considering how we started the season.”
The Beavers started conference play 3-9 but their recent 9-game win streak put them above .500 in the league and in playoff contention.
During that winning streak the Beavers averaged 12 runs and 22 hits a game. It took a few innings for the Beavers to get locked in during game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader but once they did they looked as dominant as expected.
The Mustangs scored the first run of the game off BSU starter Ryan Van Someren in the second inning but the Beavers answered back to tie in the third with a Chad Hanson triple followed by a Zach Braun RBI single.
The Beavers added two more runs in the fourth to take the 3-1 lead then broke it open with three runs in the fifth and four runs in the sixth.
Only twice did any BSU player hit anything other than a single – Hanson’s triple and a first-inning double from Trevor Purvis.
Mostly, the Beavers worked counts and patiently hit singles off SMSU pitching.
Starter Brandon Alfson went just one four innings in the loss; the Mustangs used five pitchers in relief.
BSU starter Van Someren went 5 1/3 innings to get the win. He settled in late after giving up that early run; he also gave up a two-run home run to SMSU’s Brian Ness in the top of the sixth.
“We’ve been averaging a lot of runs here lately,” Van Someren said. “I know if I give up a three spot or four spot, “I’m not worried. I can go back and just pitch. I know (our offense is) going to score, it’s just a matter of when and how many.”
Van Someren, who usually pitches out of the bullpen, improved to 4-1 on the season. Jack Hegarty pitched a nearly-perfect 1 2/3 innings for the save.
“I thought we did some good things,” Bellew said. “We left some runners early in situations we should have scored but we put it away when we needed to.”
That didn’t happen in the second game, as SMSU starter McGlauflin went the full nine innings to get the win.
The freshman right hander wasn’t overpowering – he gave up six hits and struck out just five – but he worked quickly and forced the Beavers to take some early swings.
He got through nine innings with just 86 pitches; conversely BSU starter Ross Stein threw 89 pitches in five innings of work and took the loss.
Stein had a decent outing, giving up just three runs and scattering seven hits. But he also walked four and hit a batter.
The Mustangs scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings – all by stringing together singles.
They put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh with three runs off BSU reliever Ryan Brezinski.
Cody Jenkins scored BSU’s lone run in the eighth inning after reaching on a fielder’s choice. He scored on Zach Braun’s line drive single.
“Those last four innings, we had some pretty good swings,” Bellew said. “We just didn’t get much to show for it.”
The Beavers play four crucial games Friday and Saturday against league leaders St. Cloud State. The Huskies, who are nationally-ranked in two different polls, come into this weekend with a 28-6 overall record and a 16-2 conference slate.
Van Someren, who expects to be in the bullpen and said he’ll pitch whenever he’s needed this weekend, said he thinks BSU has a chance to show the Huskies what they can do.
“We’re playing our best baseball right now,” he said. “We’ve been solid defensively and we’re hitting like crazy. We’re hoping to take a couple this weekend. If we can show we can play with them it will give us a big boost going into the conference tournament.”
Bellew added that the Beavers are in control of their own destiny.
“All we need to do is take care of our own business,” he said. “We need to get every win we possible can against St. Cloud (to make the playoffs) and that’s going to be really hard. But we’ve always seemed to play well against St. Cloud. We’re going to battle.”
Bemidji State 10, Southwest State 3
SMSU 010 002 0 – 3 8 2
BSU 001 234 x – 10 15 0
Alfson (L, 1-3), Shoemaker (5), Gacke (5), Thering (6), Ecalbarger (6), Korger (6) and Neale. K-6, BB-3.
Van Someren (W, 4-1), Hegarty (6, S) and Hirch. K-8, BB-3.
Top hitters: SMSU – Kontz, 3-4, R; Ness, 1-2, HR, 2 RBI; Kremer 2-2. BSU – Hanson 3-4, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI; Purvis 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Ellinghuysen, 3-3, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Southwest State 6, Bemidji State 1
SMSU 001 110 300 – 6 11 1
BSU 000 000 010 – 1 6 1
McGlauflin (W, 3-4) and Neale. K-5, BB-1.
Stein (L, 0-2), Brezinski (6), Campbell (8) and Braun. K-9, BB-6.
Top hitters: SMSU – Kontz, 2-4, R, RBI; Kremer 2-3, R; Ness 3-2, R 2, 3 RBI. BSU – Braun 2-4, RBI; Marks 2-4.