COLLEGE BASEBALL: BSU comes back to sweep Crookston
BEMIDJI -- It took a pair of comeback victories but the BSU baseball team avoided losing at the hands of Minnesota-Crookston in an NSIC doubleheader Tuesday afternoon at the BSU baseball diamond.
Cody Eckman's one-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh game BSU a 5-4 walk-off victory in game one; then the Beavers scored three runs in the seventh inning of game two to hold on for a 3-2 win.
"They're a better team than their record shows. They've played a lot of close games," BSU head coach Tim Bellew said of the Golden Eagles. "That was a good ballgame."
The Beavers (18-15, 12-8 NSIC) needed a string of key hits to fend off UMC, which was looking for its first NSIC victory (at 0-24) and came into the day with a 1-35 overall record.
In game one Crookston scored early off BSU starter Tyler Saeugling when Marcus Campbell singled to score Travis Magdzas.
Tyler Nelson's RBI double in the third inning evened the game and Chad Hanson gave BSU the lead when he scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth.
However, the Eagles didn't go away.
Saeugling gave up a pair of singles to start the sixth inning and was replaced by Drake Huggans -- who immediately gave up the go-ahead double to Crookston's Colton Haight.
Huggans struck out the next batter but Tony Madsen's single scored Haight to make it 4-2. BSU got out of the inning down 4-2 and cut the lead to 4-3 with Chad Hansen single in the bottom of the sixth but needed some help in the seventh to complete the comeback.
Crookston starter Jon Mittag helped the Beavers out big time.
Mittag had been solid in his first six innings, striking out four and walking just two while scattering eight hits.
But he ran into some control issues in the seventh, walking Joey Hanowski on five pitches then giving Zach Braun an easy fastball.
The next hitter, Bo Scmitz, bunted the ball right back to Mittag but the pitcher's throw got past first baseman Ryan Haggstrom and Hanowski came around to score.
Cayden Barta came in to try and get the game into extra innings. He intentionally walked Cole Bjorge to load the bases and although he got one out thanks to a spectacular diving play by UMC shortstop Madsen, it didn't last, as Eckman blasted one to left center that would have scored two or three if the score hadn't been tied.
"We didn't play bad, but they played really well," Bellew said. "They played better than us for six-plus innings.
"We left too many baserunners on. Give credit to their kid (Mittag) for making pitches when he needed to.... but thank God eckman got a pitch he could hit and took care of it."
In the second game the Eagles once again struck first, this time waiting until the fourth inning to score on BSU starter Mike Hanson.
A pair of singles and a throwing error led to Haggstrom's sacrifice fly, which scored Josh Brehmer.
UMC starter Cody Pamperin threw six scoreless innings before the Beavers were able to solve him with a string of hits in the seventh.
Jake Braun's sacrifice fly tied the game at 1-1 then Hansen doubled to right in the next at-bat to score two runs and give BSU a 3-1 lead.
The Eagles scored one off Nate Heisick in the eighth inning -- Matt Korte singled and Haggstrom scored on a throwing error -- but Huggans came on in the ninth and shut the door for the save.
"Every win is important, no matter who you play," Bellew said. "We need all the wins we can get to make sure we make the playoffs."
After Tuesday's sweep the Beavers are in fourth place with 10 games to play; the top eight teams make the NSIC playoffs.
They'll travel to St. Cloud this Saturday and Sunday to take on St. Cloud State then travel to Southwest Minnesota State next Wednesday, April 30 before returning home for the final four games of the season May 2-3 against Minot State.
Bemidji State 5, Minnesota-Crookston 4
UMC 010 003 0 -- 4 8 2
BSU 001 011 2 -- 5 10 1
UMC: Mittag (L), Barta (7) and Haight. K-4, BB-4.
BSU: Saeugling, Huggans (W, 6) and Braun. K-8, BB-2.
Bemidji State 3, Minnesota-Crookston 2
UMC 000 100 010 -- 2 7 0
BSU 000 000 30X -- 3 8 2
UMC: Pamperin (L) and Haight. K-2, BB-2.
BSU: Hanson, Heisick (W, 7), Huggans (S, 9) and Schmitz. K-8, BB-2.