• Czech provides big blow in 8-5 Game 1 win
Each of Bemidji State’s first three hitters of the game reached base via walk, and a two-RBI double from Tony Klaers and a three-run home run by Jon Czech staked the Beavers to a 5-0 lead before the Fighting Sioux had recorded an out.
The first-inning home run was the fourth of the year for Czech.
The Beavers added a run in the second when Matt Middendorf scored on a Shaun Ross sacrifice fly to center, and picked up a pair of insurance runs in the top of the fifth on a two-RBI double by Isaac Smieja to score Klaers and Ross. Smieja’s double put BSU ahead 8-0.
North Dakota picked up its first run of the contest on a solo home run from Bemidji native Jason Fairchild in the bottom of the fifth. The Sioux attempted a bottom-of-the-seventh rally, plating four runs against the Beavers with two out in the inning, but Troy Wasiloski reached on a fielder’s choice for the third out to give BSU the 8-5 win.
Russell Berner scattered seven hits in 6.2 innings of work to pick up the win for the Beavers. He allowed all five North Dakota runs (five earned) with two walks and two strikeouts. After hitting Fairchild with a pitch in the second, Berner retired nine consecutive Sioux hitters, a streak broken by Fairchild’s fifth-inning circuit clout. Dave Zothman recorded the final out to pick up his first save of the year.
• Seven-run fourth dooms Beavers in 8-5 Game 2 loss
Bemidji State starter Dan Wagner allowed just two hits and six total baserunners in the first four innings, but control problems in the fifth helped kick-start a seven-run inning for the Fighting Sioux. Wagner, who pitched out of a jam after walking the bases loaded with two out in the second, walked two and allowed an RBI triple to the only three men he’d face in the pivotal fifth.
Josh Langlie came on to relieve Wagner, but walked all three batters he faced, and Zothman would come in to try anc clean up the mess but allowed two RBI singles and a sacrifice fly before BSU could stop the bleeding and escape the inning.
Travis Koehn’s triple off Wagner was the only extra-base hit in the inning, and the Fighting Sioux scored runs on a wild pitch, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.
Bemidji State picked up a single run in the top of the sixth on a solo home run by Czech, his second long fly of the afternoon, but the Sioux responded with a single run in the home half of the sixth when Koehn scored on a Brad Willis fielder’s choice. It was the only run of the inning for the Sioux, who left the bases loaded in the frame.
BSU scored four runs in the top of the seventh to cut into the lead. The Beavers loaded the bases with none out, then saw John Grindeland and Jared Podraza score on a two-base error by Fairchild in right. Czech singled to left to score Tyler Norland, and Matt Simonson later singled home pinch-runner Eric Pilgrim to pull BSU within three runs at 8-5. But Tim Voigt struck out to follow Simonson, and after Middendorf walked to load the bases with two away Grindeland grounded out to second to end the threat.
Podraza went 3-for-3 with a run scored in the contest, while Czech went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Wagner took the loss. He started and lasted 4.1 innings, allowing three runs (three earned) on three hits. But he walked five, hit a sixth batter and threw three wild pitches; he fell to 0-1. Langlie, Zothman and Andy Bronczyk pitched in relief. Bronczyk went the final inning and a third, allowing just a run on two hits with two walks.
The split moved Bemidji State to 4-22 overall, while North Dakota improved to 19-9. BSU is back in action Thursday, April 8 when it opens a four-game Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference series against Winona State. The Beavers are slated to tackle the Warriors in a double-header beginning at 1:30 p.m. on April 8, and will wrap the series with a noon twinbill on April 9.