Jon Czech tied Jamie Sinning’s 1990 Bemidji State single-season record with his 10th home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh in Game 1.
• Czech ties BSU season home run mark in Game 1 setback
Minnesota-Duluth plated four runs in the top of the first and three runs in the fourth, then survived a late-inning BSU rally and held on for a 7-5 Game 1 victory.
The first three Bulldog batters of the game reached base, with Duluth scoring runs on a Tim Battaglia RBI double, a sacrifice fly by Adam Keeler, a Joe Korneta sacrifice bunt, and a bases-loaded walk issued to Nate Taran.
BSU chipped away, pulling to within 4-2 with single runs in the first and third. Tony Klaers grounded out to score John Grindeland in the first inning, and Eric Pilgrim scored on a wild pitch in the third.
But a Korneta sacrifice fly in the fourth kick-started a three-run frame for the visitors, and after a Mike Hanson RBI single and a wild pitch to score Tim Garceau the Bulldogs took a 7-2 cushion into the home half of the fourth.
BSU got two runs back in the fourth on RBIs from Pilgrim and Jared Podraza, but narrowly missed an opportunity to pull even on the scoreboard. With Pilgrim and Podraza on base, right fielder Shaun Ross muscled a 1-1 pitch deep down the right field line; the BSU dugout emptied to congratulate Ross on a three-run, game-tying home run, but the shot was called foul by the home plate umpire. Ross would eventually single to load the bases for Klaers, but he grounded out to end the threat and leave BSU trailing 7-4.
Czech’s record-tying circuit clout accounted for BSU’s lone run in the bottom of the seventh. Ross and Andy Bronczyk had two hits apiece for BSU, and seven different Beaver players had a hit in the game.
Stephen Heesen started on the mound for BSU and took the loss, falling to 2-2. He lasted 3.2 innings and allowed all seven Bulldog runs (all earned) on eight hits. He struck out three, but walked six and hit a seventh. Scott Pugliese was superb in relief, allowing just two hits in 3.1 innings of work out of the bullpen; he struck out one.
Battaglia, Alex Johnson and Nate Cermak had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs. Luke Hagman pitched six innings, scattering nine hits and allowing four runs (three earned) to earn the win and improve to 3-3. He struck out five and walked four, but also threw five wild pitches; the entire UMD pitching staff had just 22 wild pitches in 25 games coming in. Jacob Mertz pitched the seventh and earned his second save.
• Bulldogs grab pair of runs in top of ninth to take 4-2 pitching duel in Game 2
Game 2 was a classic pitchers duel pitting BSU’s Tyler Norland against Battaglia. Both lasted through the seventh inning, allowing just two runs apiece in regulation, and combined to throw just 222 pitches - an average of just 3.3 pitches per batter in the entire contest.
Norland threw the nine-inning complete game, scattering seven hits and allowing four runs - but just two earned - with five strikeouts and three walks. He took yet another hard-luck loss, falling to 1-5. Battaglia threw seven innings and allowed just five hits. He allowed two runs (both earned), struck out four and walked three. But Adam Templin came on in relief for UMD to start the eighth, and it would be Templin who would earn the victory. He allowed just two hits with two walks and two strikeouts in his two-inning relief stint.
UMD was the first team on the scoreboard, grabbing two runs in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Mike Hanson and an RBI fielder’s choice to Brian Bataglia.
BSU answered with runs on RBI doubles by Czech in both the fourth and sixth innings to tie the score at 2-2.
Duluth got the eventual winning runs in the top of the ninth on a two-RBI double from Taran to score Bataglia and Hanson.
Chris Dvorak and Matt Middendorf were walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and Ross was hit to load the bases with two out. But Klaers reached on a fielder’s choice to end the rally and give Duluth the 4-2 win and double-header sweep.
The sweep dropped Bemidji State to 11-27 overall and 8-10 in the NSIC. Minn.-Duluth improved to 15-12, 8-7 in the NSIC. The sweep damaged BSU’s chances of earning a berth in the four-team NSIC Championship; Duluth leap-frogged BSU leaving the Beavers in sixth place with 10 league games to play. BSU returns to action April 24-25 when it hosts Wayne State (Neb.) in a four-game NSIC series. First pitch for the April 24 double-header is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Central time,while the April 25 twinbill will get underway at noon.