BEMIDJI, Minn. (BSU Baseball Field) - Bemidji State dropped both games of a double-header to open a four-game Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference series against Winona State, losing a 9-1 decision in Game 1 and falling 7-5 in Game 2 this afternoon.
Winona State grabbed an early lead with three runs in the top of the first and lead 9-0 before BSU could get on the board, as Game 1 was never in doubt.
A two-run double from designated hitter Jay Horner provided the big blow for the Warriors in the three-run first. After putting up a single run in the second, the Warriors put the game away with four runs in the fourth on the strength of a three-run home run over the scoreboard in left center by first baseman Joe Korneta.
Winona State starter Josh Schultz held the BSU offense in check, scattering six hits in a strong six-inning outing. Schultz allowed just five BSU hitters to reach base in the first four innings before the Beavers finally picked up a run in the fifth. Designated hitter Bryan Martinka (Bemidji, Minn.) led off with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Tony Klaers (Elk River, Minn.). But Eric Pilgrim (Park Rapids, Minn.) struck out swinging with runners on first and second to end the rally.
Matt Ruben pitched the sixth and seventh innings for the Warriors in relief of Schultz, and faced the minimum to secure the victory.
Eddie Johnson (Bemidji, Minn.) started for BSU and allowed nine runs (all earned) on 10 hits in 4.2 innings of work. He struck out four and walked four, taking the loss to fall to 0-6 on the year.
Bryant Salamone (Rockford, Ill.) was stellar in relief, however, striking out six and allowing just one hit in the game’s final two and a third innings for BSU.
After a one-two-three inning to open Game 2, Bemidji State scored twice in the bottom of the first to grab an early 2-0 lead. Matt Middendorf (Sauk Centre, Minn.) walked with one out, and back-to-back RBI singles by Klaers and John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) put the Beavers on top for the first time in the double-header.
But Winona State starter Brandon Hillebrand, who escaped the first by striking out designated hitter Matt Pesta (Long Prairie, Minn.), settled and retired nine of 11 BSU batters in the second, third and fourth innings as the Warriors fought back and took control of the game.
The Warriors drew even with two runs in the top of the second. WSU led off the inning with three consecutive singles, and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Craig Dolenc drove home third baseman Brian Menard and pulled the Warriors even, 2-2.
After a 1-2-3 third, the Warriors scored three in the fourth - all on home runs - to grab the lead for good. Menard hit a two-run shot to left center with one out to put Winona State up 4-2, and a solo home run to a nearly-identical spot just to the left of BSU’s scoreboard by Dolenc staked the Warriors to a 5-2 lead.
Bemidji State tried to get back into the game with a two-run rally in the fifth. Jared Podraza (Carter Lake, Iowa) and Michael Nordyke (Ukiah, Calif.) led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Podraza would later score on a wild pitch to make the score 5-3 in favor of Winona State, and a sacrifice fly to center by Grindeland with two out scored Nordyke and pulled BSU within a run, 5-4.
But Winona State plated two insurance runs in the top of the sixth to extend its lead to three runs. Reggie Stevens had an RBI double and Dolenc had a sac fly to put Winona State ahead, 7-4.
Podraza was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh, and he scored on a two-out single by Klaers, but Grindeland reached on a fielder’s choice to end the rally and see the Beavers drop a 7-5 decision.
Hillebrand went six innings for Winona State, allowing four runs (all earned) on seven hits. He struck out five and walked only one to earn the win. Bryan Ruff pitched the seventh to earn the save.
Chad Schwegel (St. Cloud, Minn.) allowed 10 hits in six innings and was touched for all seven Winona State runs. He struck out five and walked none; he dropped to 0-4 with the loss. Lee Pingel (Ashland, Wis.) pitched the seventh in relief, allowing one hit.
The sweep drops Bemidji State’s record to 1-24, 0-6 in the NSIC, while Winona State improved to 12-13 overall and saw its NSIC record move even at 5-5. The teams wrap up their four-game series tomorrow with a double-header scheduled for a noon Central time first pitch.