BEMIDJI, Minn. (BSU Baseball Field) - Bemidji State picked up its first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory of the season, scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning when Eric Pilgrim (Park Rapids, Minn.) reached on an error to score Matt Middendorf (Sauk Centre, Minn.) and give BSU a 6-5 victory over Winona State in the first game of a double-header this afternoon. Winona State rallied to gain a split by capturing a 12-3 decision in Game 2.
With the score tied at 5-5, Dan Wagner (Campton, N.H.) led off the bottom of the seventh by flying out to center field. Michael Nordyke (Ukiah, Calif.) followed with a double to center, but he was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second base on Middendorf’s ensuing single. Middendorf advanced to second on the throw to erase Nordyke and bring Pilgrim to the plate. Pilgrim’s ground ball to second base was misplayed, and Middendorf, running on contact, had enough time to reach home and score the game-winner for BSU.
BSU held a 4-0 lead after two innings. Pilgrim scored an unearned run thanks to a passed ball on an RBI single from John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) in the first inning, and BSU led off the seocond with three consecutive base hits en route to a three-run inning. Matt Pesta (Long Prairie, Minn.) doubled home Bryan Martinka (Bemidji, Minn.) to put BSU ahead 2-0; Dan Wagner (Campton, N.H.) hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Matt Asche (Durango, Iowa), and Pesta scored on a passed ball to put BSU ahead 4-0.
Winona State picked up a run in the third to pull within 4-1, but Grindeland singled home Nordyke with two out in the fifth to put BSU back on top by four runs, 5-1.
The Warriors opened the top of the sixth with three consecutive hits, including a two-run pinch-hit home run by Matt Barrie, to pull within a run, 5-4. Joe Korneta pulled Winona State even with a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh, but Barrie flew out to set the stage for Pilgrim’s heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
Tony Meech (Sebeka, Minn.) picked up the win for BSU in relief of Chuck Erlandson (Moorhead, Minn.). Meech held the Warriors hitless in two innings of relief work, allowing one earned run on two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out one and improved to 1-1 on the season. Erlandson scattered nine hits over five innings, striking out seven. He allowed four runs (all earned) and walked one.
Korneta hit a three-run home run for Winona State with one out in the top of the first, and Game 2 was never in doubt. The Warriors scored in every inning, plating three in the first, three in the fifth and two in the seventh en route to a 12-3 blowout.
Nate Heim (Kelliher, Minn.) allowed four runs (all earned) on four hits and three walks in just an inning and a third to take the loss for BSU. BSU used three pitchers in relief, and each surrendered at least two runs.
BSU picked up eight hits in the game, but generated just three runs - a single run in the first, fourth and sixth innings. Only one of BSU’s runs were earned, when Jared Podraza (Carter Lake, Iowa) scored on a double by Asche in the fourth.
BSU’s first- and sixth-inning runs both came courtesy of errors by Winona State second baseman Mike Spaeth. Middendorf scored in the first when Spaeth threw a ball to home plate with nobody covering, and Podraza reached on a Spaeth error in the sixth and scored on Tim Voigt (Cold Springs, Minn.) groundout.
Bemidji State ran its streak of consecutive games without committing an error in the field to three. The Beavers committed just one fielding error in the four-game series. Winona State committed four errors today, three in Game 2 alone, after going errorless in yesterday’s double-header.
The split moved Bemidji State’s record to 2-25, 1-7 in the NSIC, while Winona State improved to 13-14 overall and saw its NSIC record remain even at 6-6. Bemidji State is back in action on Tuesday, April 12 in a two-game non-conference double-header against North Dakota. First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m. Central time at the BSU Baseball Field.