Bemidji State sweeps Minn.-Duluth, 13-7 and 5-4
Thursday, April 27, 2006

BEMIDJI, Minn. (BSU Baseball Field) - Bemidji State’s Matt Asche (Cedar Falls, Iowa) capped a two-run Beaver rally with an RBI single with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift BSU past Minnesota-Duluth, 5-4, in Game 2 of a non-conference double-header this afternoon in Bemidji. The victory, coupled with a 13-7 victory in Game 1, helped complete BSU’s first double-header sweep of the Bulldogs in more than nine years.

Asche’s heroics helped the Beavers complete their first twinbill sweep of the Bulldogs since 7-2 and 9-6 wins in Duluth on April 26, 1997. The sweep was BSU’s first of UMD in Bemidji in nearly 20 years, since the Beavers posted 8-5 and 7-2 wins over the Bulldogs in a twinbill sweep on April 21, 1987.

BSU’s victories were its first over the Bulldogs since April 25, 2003 and helped snap a 10-game losing streak in the all-time series. The Bulldogs had gone 21-3 against BSU in the last 24 meetings dating back to April 20, 1999. BSU’s 13 runs in Game 1 tied its series record for most-ever in a single game against the Bulldogs, matching a 13-6 win in Bemidji on May 3, 1988.

BSU built a 13-0 lead in Game 1 before the Bulldogs had managed to put a runner as far as second base. The Beavers got a two-run home run from John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) in the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead, the first of three home runs for BSU in the first four innings of the contest.

Eric Pilgrim (Park Rapids, Minn.) parked a solo home run over the left field fence to lead off a three-run second, and a two-run home run to right by Matt Pesta (Chaska, Minn.) with two out in the fourth capped a four-run inning to stake BSU to a 9-0 advantage and chase Bulldog starter Mike Yrjo.

The Beavers hammered Yrjo for nine runs (eight earned) in 3 2/3 innings and put up four runs (three earned) in two-thirds of an inning against his replacement, Bobby Hurt.

BSU extended its lead to 13-0 by scoring four times on two hits and three Bulldog errors, tying its series record for most runs in a single game against Minn.-Duluth.

While the BSU offense was pummeling the Bulldogs, Beaver starter Kevin Morel (Shoreview, Minn.) was busy assembling his first collegiate victory on the hill. Morel dominated through five innings, limiting the Bulldogs to three hits and not allowing a single UMD runner to advance as far as second base.

Morel got into trouble in the fifth, but would have escaped with a 1-2-3 inning save for a two-base error by BSU shortstop Matt Middendorf (Sauk Centre, Minn.) to lead off the frame. Middendorf’s throwing miscue put Tony Doherty on second base, and a double play two batters later would have put Morel into the seventh with a three-hit shutout.

Instead, the Bulldogs capitalized and plated five unearned runs to shave the BSU lead to 13-5.

Morel came out for Tony Meech (Menahga, Minn.) to start the seventh, and Meech surrendered two runs before slamming the door on the BSU blowout, 13-7.

Minn.-Duluth scored once in the first and twice in the second in Game 2 to take a 3-0 lead after the top of the second. David Olson reached on an RBI fielder’s choice to get the Bulldogs on the board in the first, and an RBI double by Nate Taran and an RBI double by Doherty helped the Bulldogs to a three-run lead, their first of the day.

The lead held until the bottom of the fourth, when BSU balanced the scoreboard with a three-run rally. Pilgrim singled home Grindeland with the bases loaded and none out to spark the rally, and Dan Wagner (Plymouth, N.H.) laced a two-run single down the left field line to score two runs and pull the Beavers even.

The Bulldogs recaptured the lead with an Olson RBI single in the top of the fifth, and UMD carried its 4-3 advantage into the bottom of the seventh. There, BSU put two men on with one out and Tony Klaers (Elk River, Minn.) singled home Grindeland to tie the score at 4-4. Pilgrim singled to load the bases, and Asche delivered the sweep-clinching hit to give BSU the 5-4 victory.

Bemidji State improved to 8-29 overall with the sweep and has now won three consecutive games for the first time since a five-game winning streak from April 19-24, 2005. Minnesota-Duluth saw its season record tumble to 12-26.

BSU wraps up the home portion of its 2006 schedule this weekend when it hosts a four-game Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference series against Minn.-Crookston. The Beavers host the Golden Eagles in a pair of double headers scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and noon starts, respectively, on April 29-30 at the BSU Baseball Field.