DULUTH, Minn. (Bulldog Park) - Minnesota Duluth used a four-run first inning to spark a 6-3 victory over Bemidji State in Game 1 of a non-conference double-header, then scored seven unanswered runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to rally from a 7-1 deficit to stun the Beavers, 8-7, in the nightcap to complete a two-game sweep.
The sweep gives the Beavers and Bulldogs a split in their four-game non-conference series this season, as BSU swept UMD in Bemidji on April 27.
Casey Allar (Sartell, Minn.) walked with one out in the first inning and later scored on an RBI double from Matt Pesta (Long Prairie, Minn.) to give the Beavers an early 1-0 lead in Game 1, but it would be short-lived. The Bulldogs answered with four runs in the home half of the first inning, capped by a two-run single from catcher Mike Hanson, to grab a lead they’d not relinquish.
BSU pulled within 4-2 on a solo home run from Danny Zielke (Richfield, Minn.) with two out in the second inning, but the Bulldogs answered with an RBI single from David Olson in the home half of the second inning to keep the lead at three runs.
BSU again cut the lead to two when Zielke scored after a leadoff double in the fifth inning, but a John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) double play ended the rally. The Beavers would generate just one hit over the final two innings and the Bulldogs added a run in the sixth to seal the win.
Kevin Morel (Shoreview, Minn.) allowed eight hits over five innings, striking out five and walking five to take the loss for the Beavers. He allowed five earned runs and saw his record fall to 1-2. Matt Middendorf (Sauk Centre, Minn.) allowed one earned run on three hits while working the sixth inning out of the bullpen.
Adam Templin struck out three in 5 1/3 innings of work and allowed three runs (three earned) on seven hits to pick up the win for the hosts. Bub Lovas pitched the final inning and two-thirds and held BSU without a hit to garner the save.
Zielke went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, one RBI and two runs scored to lead the BSU offense. Olson went 3-for-4 with one RBI to pace the Bulldogs. The Beavers used a five-run second inning to set off a streak of seven consecutive runs and stake BSU to a seemingly-secure 7-1 lead after the fourth inning.
Nick Noack (Hudson, Wis.) singled home Tony Klaers (Elk River, Minn.) to set off the five-run second-inning rally. Dan Wagner (Plymouth, N.H.) later walked with the bases loaded to put BSU up 2-1, and a Middendorf followed with an RBI single. John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) capped the rally with a two-RBI single.
Noack staked BSU to a 6-1 lead with his first home run of the season with two down in the third. After the Bulldogs went 1-2-3 in the top of the inning BSU pushed its lead to 7-1 on an RBI double from Klaers to score Grindeland in the bottom of the fourth.
BSU would be held to just one hit in its final three innings, and the Bulldogs began assembling their comeback in the top of the fifth. The Bulldogs plated three runs after two men were out in the top of the fifth to spark their late-inning rally. Nate Taran reached on a two-out bunt single and was promptly driven home by Tony Doherty to pull the Bulldogs within 7-2, and Ty Fadness cut the lead to three with a two-RBI double two batters later.
The Beavers went 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth, and the Bulldogs cut the lead to 7-5 on a sacrifice fly from Andrew Heieie in the bottom of the frame. Bemidji State managed only a walk in the seventh and clung to the 7-5 lead heading into the bottom of the final inning. Doherty led off the frame with a walk, Alex Johnson followed with a single and Fadness walked to load the bases with none out. Olson responded with a two-run single to draw the Bulldogs even at 7-7. Brian Bataglia then won the game with a one-out double to score Fadness, complete the improbable rally and give the Bulldogs an 8-7 victory and double-header sweep.
Josh Langlie (Thief River Falls, Minn.) started for the Beavers and was in cruise control until the Bulldogs caught him for five earned runs in the fifth and sixth innings. He came out with one out in the fifth for Middendorf, who allowed three runs (three earned) on four hits in one inning of work to take the loss.
The Bulldogs cycled through four pitchers, with starter John Vaudreuil lasting just two innings after coughing up five earned runs on four hits. Cole Hytjan threw two innings of relief and allowed two runs, followed by Justin Hayes who allowed just one hit while pitching the fifth. Scott Christenson limited BSU to one walk over the game’s final two innings as the UMD offense completed its comeback, and he earned the victory for the hosts.
Bemidji State fell to 8-33 overall with the sweep while Minn.-Duluth improved to 15-28 overall. Bemidji State returns to Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action this weekend when it travels to Northern State for a four-game series, May 6-7. First pitch on May 6 is slated for 1:30 p.m. while the May 7 double-header will get underway at noon.