FAYETTE, Iowa - Senior right-hander Ryan Sander (St. James, Minn.) pitched a six-hit shutout in game one and junior Juan Molero (Maracaibo, Venezuela) cracked a base hit in the 11th inning of game two to guide the Bemidji State University baseball team to 1-0 and 3-2 (11 innings) victories at Upper Iowa University Sunday to earn a 2-0 start to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference season.
The last time the Beavers won 1-0 was March 2, 2003 at home versus Concordia University, St. Paul. Also for the first time since 2003, BSU opened conference play 2-0, downing University of Minnesota-Morris 4-2 (12 innings) and 8-6. Entering the doubleheader, the Beavers were 0-7 in games where they scored five or less runs. BSU is now 3-0 in games decided by one run and are 2-0 in extra inning contests.
Sander went the distance for BSU (8-8, 2-0 NSIC) in game one, allowing just six hits and keeping the Peacocks (6-7, 0-2 NSIC) off the scoreboard, while fanning seven batters. Sander’s complete game shutout is the second by a Beaver this season, following sophomore left-hander Phil Bray’s (Chatfield, Minn.) three-hit, 7-0 shutout against Minot State University March 11.
The lone run came in the opening inning that was started with senior Colton Smith (OF, Waddel, Ari.) drawing a walk. Freshman Dylan Webb (Phoenix, Ariz.) moved Smith to second on a infield base hit, then the two effectively performed a double steal to put two runners in scoring position. The next batter, freshman Zach Braun (Lakeville, Minn.), plated Smith on a ground out to second for his team-leading 10th RBI.
Game two was another battle on the mound that resulted in extra innings and a one-run difference. The Peacocks scored their first run of the doubleheader in the bottom of the first inning. The Beavers responded in the top of the second, getting an unearned run from sophomore Logan Kalis (RHP, Little Falls, Minn.) off a sophomore Matt Ellinghuysen (3B, Saint Charles, Minn.) base hit.
The score sat at 1-1 until the eighth inning there both teams posted a single run. Smith and Webb again combined to get a run for BSU, stringing back-to-back hits together with Smith scoring on an error by the UIU center fielder on Webb’s hit. The Peacocks got their run with two outs, stringing two hits together.
The run ended Bray’s day, but not before he struckout 12 Peacock batters, establishing a career-high and tying a season-best by a NSIC pitcher in strikeouts this season. He threw eight complete, allowing two runs on 10 hits and walking just one batter. The BSU bullpen continued the strong pitching performance by the Beavers as senior right-hander Brian Jamieson (Maplewood, Minn.) allowed just one hit in two innings and earned his first decision of the season. Sophomore Ryan Brezinski (RHP, Regina, Saskatchewan) picked-up his second save of the season, fanning one batter and not allowing a hit in the bottom of the 11th.
BSU manufactured its winning run as Kalis started the inning by drawing a walk. Senior outfielder Nick Jelacie (Brainerd, Minn.) then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Kalis to second. Ellinghuysen grounded out to short, but it was a productive out that got Kalis to third. With two outs and a man on third, Molero stepped to the plate and played hero, driving in Kalis on a single to center field.
Upper Iowa pitcher Josh McKeon hurled 10 innings, allowing the two runs on just five hits and striking out nine batters in the green and white. The Peacocks totalled 11 hits to BSU’s six, but the Peacocks committed the only two errors of the game that resulted in two important runs for the Beavers.
BSU continues its four-game set at Upper Iowa tomorrow beginning at 12 p.m.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).