PLAINVIEW, Texas (Wilder Field) - Wayland Baptist used a five-run seventh inning to blow open a one-run game against Bemidji State and cruise to a 15-10 victory on March 15 in the rubber match of a three-game non-conference series. Wayland Baptist hit four home runs in the third and fourth innings of the contest as the Pioneers plated nine unaswered runs to erase a 4-0 deficit.
The Beavers grabbed an early four-run lead with single runs in the first and second and a two-run third. Matt Pesta (Long Prairie, Minn.) singled home Matt Middendorf (Sauk Centre, Minn.) in the home half of the first; Eric Pilgrim (Park Rapids, Minn.) scored unearned on an error after walking to lead off the inning; and John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) and Matt Asche (Cedar Falls, Iowa) drove in runs in the two-run third to give BSU a four-run advantage.
The Pioneers retaliated with four home runs and nine unanswered runs over the game’s next two innings, storming to a 9-4 lead.
Leadoff hitter Johnathan Reynoso hit a two-run home run with none out to open a five-run Pioneer third, capped by a two-run single from catcher Brian Bueno. Chasen DeLeon homered to lead off the fourth, followed by a two-run home run by Israel Castillo and a solo homer from Joe Covarrubias with one out in the inning to complete the Pioneer rally.
BSU pulled within a run with a four-run fifth, but could draw no closer. Pilgrim sparked the rally with a two-run single after the Beavers had loaded the bases with none out, Dan Zielke (Richfield, Minn.) grounded out to drive home a run for the second out of the inning and Tadhg Baucom (Chicago, Ill.) singled home Pilgrim to cap the rally.
The Beavers were held to just one baserunner in the sixth and seventh innings - a sixth-inning walk by Asche - and a pair of defensive miscues helped the Pioneers blew the game open with a five-run seventh. Two Bemidji State errors led to four unearned runs in the decisive seventh inning, which was capped by a two-out, two-run double to left by Michael Prell.
The teams traded runs in the eighth, with Pesta driving in BSU’s lone run with a sacrifice fly, and BSU scored once without the benefit of a hit in the top of the ninth for the game’s final 15-10 margin.
Pesta finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with a double, one run scored and two RBI, capping a stellar three-game series which saw the BSU junior go 6-for-12 at the plate with a double, two home runs, three runs scored and a team-leading 10 RBI.
Middendorf and Grindeland added two hits apiece for BSU, and Middendorf scored three times.
Roberson went 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBI and a run scored to pace the Pioneers, while Iverson, Covarrubias, Torres and Prell added two hits each.
Covarrubias went 8-for-13 in the series with three doubles, a home run, five RBI and five runs scored while Iverson posted an 8-for-14 series with two doubles, two RBI and a series-best seven runs scored. DeLeon and Reynoso each had two home runs and six RBI in the series
Tony Meech (Menahga, Minn.) started for BSU and lasted three innings, allowing seven runs (four earned) on seven hits. Kevin Morel (Shoreview, Minn.) allowed seven runs (three earned) on six hits in four innings of relief work, and Middendorf pitched the eighth and allowed one run on two hits and a walk. Meech took the loss and fell to 0-2.
BSU battered Wayland Baptist starter Gary Gates to the tune of eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits and a pair of walks in 4.2 innings. But three Pioneer relievers limited BSU to three hits over the final four and a third innings while Wayland Baptist’s offense put the game out of reach. Richard Cruz, who allowed three hits and one run in 2.2 innings of relief work as the first Pioneer out of the bullpen, picked up the victory and evened his season mark at 1-1.
Bemidji State fell to 1-7 with the loss, while Wayland Baptist improved to 16-12 overall and posted its ninth victory in its last 10 games. The Beavers return to action March 17-18 at the Central Missouri Classic in Warrensburg, Mo. BSU opens play at the Classic with a single nine-inning game against Central Missouri State on March 17. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. Saturday’s schedule is to be determined, and scheduled games for Sunday, March 19 have been cancelled in an announcement made by CMSU officials late on March 16.