BEMIDJI, Minn. (BSU Baseball Field) - Bemidji State suffered a pitching apocalypse in a 19-13 non-conference baseball loss to St. Cloud State in Game 1 of a double-header this afternoon, but rallied to win Game 2, 5-4, on a two-out RBI single by Matt Pesta (Long Prairie, Minn.) in the bottom of the sixth and earn the split.
Game 1 did no favors to either pitching staff, as the teams combined to score 32 runs on 30 hits and defenses combined for seven errors which led to four unearned runs. The teams each scored five runs in the first inning, and from there the teams were off to the races.
Bobby Gregoire was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Gary Keiss fired a three-RBI double into left center field to do the majority of the damage for the Huskies in the top of the first, and a two-run home run by Pesta capped BSU’s five-run first.
St. Cloud State grabbed the lead with two runs in the top of the third to pull ahead 7-5, but BSU immediately rallied to pull ahead 9-7 with four runs in the bottom of the third. Bryan Martinka (Bemidji, Minn.) had an RBI single and later scored, Dan Wagner (Campton, N.H.) drew a bases-loaded walk and Michael Nordyke (Ukiah, Calif.) had an RBI single to cap the rally for the Beavers.
But BSU’s pitching imploded in the fifth inning, as three Beaver pitchers faced 14 Husky hitters in the frame and by the time the inning finally came to a close the visitors had plated 10 runs. An RBI single by Gregoire, a two-RBI double by Dan Skog and a walk to Ryan Kapsner to load the bases with none out was enough to chase Bryant Salamone (Rockford, Ill.), who had come in just one inning earlier in relief of Scott Sand (Sauk Rapids, Minn.). Salamone was relieved by Nate Heim (Kelliher, Minn.); Heim faced five batters, and after retiring the first man he faced allowed a grand slam and a three-run home run as the Huskies lept out to a 17-9 advantage and essentially put the game out of reach.
Dave Zothman (Laporte, Minn.) came on as BSU’s third hurler in the inning and retired two of the three men he faced to stop the bleeding.
BSU took advantage of a throwing error to score three runs, two unearned, in the sixth, and scored a single run in the bottom of the seventh, and the Huskies plated two in the top of the seventh as BSU was unable to recover from the disastrous fifth inning.
St. Cloud State’s lineup was littered with standout performances. Kyle Johnson went 4-for-4 with three RBI and five runs scored; Keiss went 2-for-4 with a run scored and four RBI; and Luke Klitze went 2-for-3 with a triple, a three-run home run, four RBI and two runs scored.
Matt Middendorf (Sauk Centre, Minn.) and Martinka had three hits apiece to pace the Beavers. Salamone took the loss on the hill, falling to 1-3.
Chase Nelson took the loss on the mound for the Huskies despite dominating BSU for all but two innings. Nelson threw just 72 pitches in a six-inning complete game, and needed just nine pitches to get through the first two innings.
But in the third, a defensive miscue led to an unearned BSU run and a two-run home run over the monster in left by Nordyke helped BSU grab a 3-2 lead.
The Huskies rallied for two runs in the top of the fifth to grab a 4-3 lead. Kitzke doubled home Skog to chase BSU starter Josh Langlie (Thief River Falls, Minn.) and later scored to give the visitors the lead.
But BSU rallied with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to retake the lead for good. BSU led off the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases with none out. Tony Klaers (Elk River, Minn.) scored and drew BSU even at 4-4 when Eric Pilgrim (Park Rapids, Minn) grounded into a double play, and Pesta singled through the right side to score John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) and put BSU on top, 5-4.
Nate Swan reached on a fielder’s choice in the top of the seventh and was replaced by pinch runner Kapsner. Kyle McDonald followed with a double to left center, and Kapsner was waved home in an attempt to score from first base. He was thrown out at the plate on a throw from Nordyke to Middendorf to catcher Andy Eagan (Woodbury, Minn.), and Johnson grounded out to second base to end the rally and secure the one-run victory for BSU.
Lee Pingel got the win for BSU, pitching two scoreless innings in relief and allowing just three hits. He improved to 1-0.
The split gives Bemidji State three wins in its last four games, improving the team to 5-30 on the season. St. Cloud State saw its record move to 17-15. BSU is back in action April 23-24 in a four-game Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference series at Minnesota-Crookston. The series is scheduled as two double-headers, each with 1:30 p.m. Central scheduled start times. The series opens a six-game road trip for BSU.