ST. CLOUD, Minn. (Faber Field) – Two big offensive innings was all senior lefty Phil Bray (Chatfield, Minn.) needed to post his second consecutive win against St. Cloud State University Wednesday, as the Bemidji State University baseball team recorded a 9-3 first round Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament victory against the No. 1 seed Huskies at Faber Field in St. Cloud, Minn.
After playing SCSU four times last week, it was fair to say the teams knew what to expect from each other. Bray allowed just one run on four hits in a win against SCSU May 3, while St. Cloud State starter Corey Fitzgerald hurled nine complete innings in a win May 3, where he allowed one run on five hits. It was Bray and the No. 8 seeded Beavers that prevailed Wednesday to upend the No. 9 nationally Huskies on their own field in the opening game of the NSIC Tournament, a tournament BSU hasn’t been a part of since 2008.
Bemidji State now battles the No. 4 seed Winona State University May 9 at 3:30 p.m. at Faber Field. The Warriors advanced after an 8-3 victory against Concordia University, St. Paul. BSU didn’t play Winona State this season after the NSIC series was canceled due to weather. Last season, the Beavers went 1-3 in a four-game series with the Warriors.
The Beavers jumped on Fitzgerald and SCSU in the first frame and posted three runs on two hits. Lead-off man Hanson drew a nine pitch walk, then moved to second when a fielding error by the Huskies third baseman allowed junior catcher Zach Braun (Lakeville, Minn.) to gain first. Senior outfielder Trevor Purvis (Rio Rancho, N.M.) went to move the runner on a bunt, but was able to beat a throw to first after Fitzgerald came off the mound to field the ball and looked to third before throwing to first. With bases loaded and zero outs, senior Logan Kalis (OF/RHP, Little Falls, Minn.) put a sacrifice fly out to center to plate Hanson, then senior first baseman Jaryd Marks (Cottage Grove, Minn.) ripped a double to right center to score Braun and Purvis.
The 3-0 lead in the first helped Bray to settle in right away and go after SCSU batters. He posted a no-hitter through three before giving up two hits in the fourth that led to a Huskies run.
Bray’s teammates responded in the top half of the fifth and posted five runs on four hits and was aided by another SCSU error to open the 8-1 lead. Braun and Purvis singled to lead off the inning. Marks then posted a one out single down the right field line to plate Braun and move Purvis to third. Sophomore Jack Hegarty (INF/RHP, Brainerd, Minn.) put a good swing on a ball, but hit it right to the SCSU third baseman, which proceeded to throw to second, but his toss went sailing into right field. Purvis scored and with still one out BSU had runners on first and second.
Hegarty was Fitzgerald’s last batter faced, as he allowed seven runs (five earned) on six hits. Freshman Joey Hanowski (INF/OF, Little Falls, Minn.) drew a walk to load the bases to set up a two-RBI single to right by senior third baseman Matt Ellinghuysen (St. Charles, Minn.). Hanowski was then plated by a sacrifice fly to left off the bat of senior shortstop Lewis Baumann (Colorado Springs, Colo.).
Bray continued to wheel and deal and get Husky batters out. St. Cloud State was able to tally one run in the seventh to cut the Beaver lead to 8-2, but BSU tallied an insurance run in the ninth to make it 9-2. SCSU saw its first two batters of the ninth reach base with a hit, then Bray hit the next batter to load the bases. At that point, Hegarty left his post at second to relieve Bray and proceeded to set the next three SCSU batters down in order. The Huskies got one run on a sacrifice, but Hegarty played his role as damage control to allow Bemidji State to celebrate the 9-3 upset victory.
Bray allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with four strikeouts. In the end, he faced 37 batters and totaled 142 pitches.
The Beavers totaled 10 hits, three came off the bat of Braun, as he went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a walk. Marks totaled two hits for three RBIs and a run scored. Purvis went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two walks.
NOTES: With the win versus No. 9 St. Cloud State, the Beavers have three wins against nationally-ranked opponents in 2013… BSU’s 23rd win ties it with last year’s team for third most all time at BSU… The Beavers are now 5-9 in NSIC Tournament play… Head coach Tim Bellew is 2-1 in NSIC Tournament play… Bellew is 4-22 in his career versus Winona State.
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Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).