EMPORIA, Kan. (Glennen Field) - The Bemidji State baseball team scored runs in the top of the first inning in both games of a Feb. 23 double-header with the No. 25 Emporia State Hornets, but the Hornets responded with 10 unanswered runs over four innings in a 17-3 Game 1 victory, then rallied from a 5-4 deficit heading into the bottom of the third with 12 unanswered runs in the third and fourth innings to blow open an eventual 18-7 victory to complete the twinbill sweep.
A two-run home run by Josh Juntunen (Elk River, Minn.) with two out in the first inning helped the Beavers grab an early lead in Game 1, but Emporia State’s Jerry Cook was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in a run and cut BSU’s lead to 2-1 in the home half of the inning.
The Hornets then erupted for six runs in the bottom of the second inning to blow the game open. Chad Griffin’s two-out grand slam was the big blow in the frame, chasing BSU starter Josh Langlie (Thief River Falls, Minn.). Cook welcomed reliever Karl Willers (Slayton, Minn.) with a solo home run to extend Emporia State’s lead to 7-2 before Willers could get the Beavers out of the inning.
Emporia State pushed its lead to 10-2 with a pair of runs in the third and one in the fourth before BSU broke up the run when Mike Wagner (Plymouth, N.H.) led off the fifth with a solo home run. But BSU went down 1-2-3 after Wagner’s circuit clout, and the Hornets retaliated with four runs on five hits in the bottom of the frame to extend their lead to 15-3. Cook parked a three-run home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the sixth to wrap up the game’s scoring and give ESU an 18-3 win.
Cook’s sixth-inning bomb capped a huge day for him at the plate. He finished 3-for-4 with six RBI and three runs scored, pacing a group of three Hornets with four or more RBI. Keith Hernandeze went 2-for-4 with four RBI and and a run scored, while Griffin’s second-inning grand slam helped him to a 3-for-4 day at the plate with four RBI and two runs scored.
Juntunen was the lone BSU hitter to notch multiple hits; he went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Langlie took the loss for the Beavers on the mound, allowing six earned runs on three hits and three walks in an inning and two-thirds. BSU used three men out of the bullpen in the contest, and two of the three yielded at least four runs during his stint on the mound.
Kellen Mitts allowed all three BSU runs on three hits in 5.0 innings for the Hornets; he picked up his first win of the season. Two Hornets pitched one inning each in relief.
BSU’s bats kept pace early in Game 2, as the Beavers rallied from a 4-1 deficit after the first inning with two runs in the second and two in the third to grab a 5-4 advantage. But big innings again proved to be BSU’s downfall, as the Hornets rallied with five runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead and then put the game out of reach with a seven-run eruption in the home half of the fourth.
Juntunen’s RBI single gave BSU the game’s first run in the top of the first, but Emporia State responded by scoring four runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead. Matt Marasco’s two-RBI double with one out put the Hornets in front, 2-1, and an RBI double from Nick Carlson and an RBI single from Nick Wolfe pushed the lead to 4-1. BSU responded with four unanswered runs, plating two runs in the top of the second on an RBI single off the bat of Tony Samuelson (Pine City, Minn.) and an RBI fielder’s choice from Ryan Bohannan (Goodyear, Ariz.), then took the lead on a RBI singles from Brian Simon (Owatonna, Minn.) and Bohannan in the third.
But Carlson put the hosts back on top with a two-run double with none out in the third, and RBI singles by Brian Majors and Connor Crumbliss and an RBI groundout from Tim Barger to push Emporia State’s lead to 9-5.
The Beavers went 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth, and Emporia State erased any doubts as to the game’s outcome with seven runs in the bottom of the frame. Carlson’s two-run home run to center with one out kick-started the rally, and Barger’s three-run home run later in the frame capped the seven-run outburst. Emporia State added two runs in the top of the sixth to push its lead to 18-5, and BSU’s Anthony Turk (Little Falls, Minn.) pulled the Beavers to the game’s final 18-7 margin with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh.
Tony Meech (Menahga, Minn.) started on the mound and took the loss for the Beavers. He allowed nine runs - all earned - on nine hits with three strikeouts and a walk in three innings of work. Ed Johnson (Circle Pines, Minn.) and Casey Allar (Sartell, Minn.) pitched in relief.
Brett Brandon started for the Hornets but lasted just an inning and a third, allowing three BSU runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out two. Grant Meisenheimer came on in relief and would eventually eanr the victory in a 3.2-inning relief appearance.
Juntunen went 4-for-4 at the plate for the Beavers with an RBI and two runs scored, and was the lone BSU hitter with multiple hits in the contest. Carlson went 3-for-4 with five RBI and three runs scored, and Crumbliss went 4-for-5 from his leadoff position to pace the Hornet offense.
Bemidji State (0-4) returns to action March 2-4 at the Central Missouri State Tournament in Warrensburg, Mo.