BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University baseball team scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, en route to a 7-6 game two win that split its home and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener with Wayne State College. The Beavers lost game one 15-2 in seven innings (nine scheduled) at the BSU Baseball Field.
The games served as the home opener for BSU, making it the earliest the Beavers have ever played a home game in the 58 years of the program’s existence. The earliest BSU had played was March 27, 2007 in a nonconference doubleheader with University of Minnesota Duluth.
The Beavers (10-9, 1-1 NSIC) had their heads low entering the bottom of the sixth inning after losing 15-2 in game one and seeing a score of 5-1 Wayne State (5-11, 1-1 NSIC) on the board. But a throwing error by the Wildcat third baseman put junior outfielder Nick Jelacie (Brainerd, Minn.) on second to lead-off the inning. Junior Dan Bauer (RHP, Bemidji, Minn.) then came to bat and singled to right to advance Jelacie to third. That set-up sophomore Jeff Schaper (1B, Bemidji, Minn.) who sent the first pitch over the center field fence to cut the deficit to one. The next Beaver batter, junior Ryan Guy (OF, Fountain Hills, Ari.,) drew a walk and that ended WSC’s Tadd Johansen’s time on the mound. Johansen had relieved Wildcat starter Austen Wisroth to start the six. Wisroth had thrown five innings, scattering five hits and fanning five batters.
Josh Nelson then took the mound for WSC, looking to stop the bleeding. Freshman Lewis Bauman (MIF, Colorado Springs, Colo.) then moved Guy over to second with a sacrifice bunt, giving the visitor’s their first out of the inning. Freshman Riley Hirsch (C/RHP, Little Falls, Minn.) kept the momentum needle bouncing on the BSU side with a shot down the left field line to advance Guy to third. He then stole second to avoid a inning-ending double play ball. Lead-off batter Joe Chism (Sr., RF, Great Bend, Kan.) got the BSU dugout hopping and the fans in the stands cheering with a clutch single to right field. The hit easily scored Guy from third and the wheels of Hirsch were utilized as head coach Tim Bellew sent him home without hesitation. The speed forced the WSC left fielder to hurry and he was unable to get the ball into the infield fast enough to even make a play at the plate. The run gave BSU its first lead of the conference season at 6-5 with still just one out.
Knowing and seeing the proven power of Wildcats offense, the Beavers knew they needed at least one insurance run heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. A double from senior Josh Silvernagel (MIF/RHP, Bismark, N.D.) helped the cause and put runners on second and third for junior third baseman Colton Smith (Waddel, Ari.). Smith did his job and hit a fly ball to center field that was deep enough to score Chism from third and give the home squad a 7-5 lead. Jelacie then came to bat for the second time in the inning and reached on a fielder’s choice. He hit a bouncer to third and with two outs, Silvernagel was running. WSC third baseman Jake Ritzdorf saw Silvernagel get caught between the bases so he tried to get him out as Silvernagel was heading back to second, but he slid-in safe. A walk to Bauer set-up more Schaper magic with the bases loaded. Unfortunately, Schaper had some strong cuts, but struck out swinging to end the inning.
Bauer was brought in to close the deal for BSU, but it wouldn’t be that easy. Two lead-off singles from the top of WSC’s batting order made it first and second with no outs. The first out came on a fielder’s choice as the hitter tagged one back at Bauer, who knocked it down and got the force at third. A passed ball that went right through Hirsch’s body moved both runners into scoring position with the tying run on second. A ground out to first got the second out, but scored one to make it 7-6. The next WSC batter then hit one hard to center, but it was high and Jelacie closed his glove on his eighth putout of the contest and closed the book on the game.
Freshman Ryan Anderson (Lino Lakes, Minn.) started the game for BSU, throwing five innings, scattering six hits, while allowing three runs, all earned. Sophomore Ethan Branum (LHP, Brainerd, Minn.) pitched the sixth, giving-up two runs on three hits, but still earned the win to move to 4-1. Bauer picked-up his second save of the season, allowing the one run on two hits. At the plate Chsim was 3-of-4 with two RBI and one run. Hirsch went 3-for-3 with a run. Schaper was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. In the game, BSU had 10 hits, getting half of them in the big sixth inning. The Beavers had three costly errors in the first game, but stayed out of that column in the night cap.
Game one got off to a rocky start as the Wildcats were ahead 9-0 after three innings. It was 15-0 when BSU put two runs on the board off a Silvernagel home run, his second the season, that scored Chism. This season the NSIC has implemented a nine inning then seven inning doubleheader for all league twin-bills. BSU and WSC only played seven innings in the first game, as the league also added a 10-run rule after seven innings of the nine inning contests.
BSU and WSC complete its four-game set tomorrow at BSU Baseball Field with a doubleheader slated for noon.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).