Concordia-St. Paul completes four-game sweep of Bemidji State
Sunday, April 23, 2006

BEMIDJI, Minn. (BSU Baseball Field) - Bemidji State’s baseball team tied a season high by scoring six or more runs in its second and third consecutive game, but the offense could not keep pace with the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears, who completed a four-game sweep of the Beavers with 11-6 and 8-6 victories today in Bemidji.

The Beaver offense did its part, putting together its second three-game streak of six or more runs scored this season with six runs in each contest. However, it played from behind all day, and two mid-inning rallies were not enough to overcome a Concordia offense which plated 18 of its 19 runs in the first four innings. BSU used big fourth innings in both games of the double header to make a dent in sizable Concordia leads. BSU scored four times in the fourth inning of Game 1 to cut a 10-2 deficit to 10-6, and used a three-run fourth in Game 2 to cut into an 8-1 Bear advantage.

Concordia led 9-0 after the top of the third inning in Game 1, picking up five runs on five hits in the second and scoring four unearned runs in the third after a two-out error by BSU shortstop Matt Middendorf (Sauk Centre, Minn.) extended the inning. Bear DH Chris Duda provided the back-breaker in the third, delivering a three-run home run to left field to make the score 9-0.

BSU scored twice in the third to break up the shutout on an RBI single from John Grindeland (Moorhead, Minn.) and an RBI fielder’s choice from Matt Asche (Cedar Falls, Iowa), then made a game of it by plating four runs in the fourth.

Matt Pesta (Long Prairie, Minn.) doubled home two runs with two out to cap the four-run rally, which helped BSU shave the Concordia lead to 10-6. But BSU generated just two baserunners in the game’s final three innings, and the Bears tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh to lock up the 11-6 Game 1 victory.

The visitors scored three runs in the first and three runs in the fourth to grab an 8-1 lead in Game 2, then survived five unanswered BSU runs in the late innings to complete the sweep.

The first four Bear hitters of Game 2 reached safely, and the first three scored before BSU could record an out. A double-play ended the threat, but BSU starter Eddie Johnson (Bemidji, Minn.) issued walks to the first two men he faced in the second. Both scored to push Concordia’s lead to 5-0.

Johnson had a 1-2-3 third inning, just the second of the day by the Beaver defense, but allowed two home runs in the pivotal fourth inning as the Bears scored three times to take an 8-1 lead and essentially seal the game.

BSU fought back with five unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but could not overcome the early seven-run hole. BSU put together a three-run rally on just two hits in the fourth, then cut the lead to 8-6 on RBI singles from Asche and Eric Pilgrim (Park Rapids, Minn.) in the fifth.

But in a microcosm of BSU’s struggles for the series, Pilgrim took too wide a turn around first after his hit and was picked off by the Bear right fielder to help cut the rally short. The Beavers went 1-2-3 in the sixth and had their only baserunner in the seventh picked off, and the Bears held on to complete the sweep, 8-6.

Both pitching staffs struggled, as neither team was able to get a starter out of the fourth inning in either contest. BSU chased Concordia starters Jacob Campion and Rob Maslowski after 3 2/3 and 3 1/3 of an inning, respectively. But the Bears received a stellar performance from reliever Kirk Ingram, who pitched seven innings of relief and earned the victory in both ends of the double-header.

Ingram threw the final 3 1/3 innings of Game 1 and shut BSU out on three hits with four strikeouts, then allowed five hits and surrendered a pair of unearned runs in 3 2/3 innings of work to finish up Game 2. He did not walk a single BSU hitter in his two relief appearances, and the matching set of victories improved him to 5-1 on the season.

BSU starter Bryant Salamone (Rockford, Ill.) survived just 2 2/3 innings of his Game 1 start, allowing nine runs (five earned) on nine hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Kevin Morel (Shoreview, Minn.) scattered six hits and allowed two earned runs in a solid 4 1/3-inning relief appearance to close out the Game 1 loss for the Beavers. Salamone drew the loss and fell to 1-4.
Likewise, Johnson got BSU off to a rocky start in Game 2, surrendering eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings of work before yielding to Tony Meech (Menahga, Minn.). Meech shut the Bears out for 3 1/3 innings and gave BSU an opportunity to claw back into the game. Johnson’s loss dropped him to 1-6 on the year.

Bemidji State saw its season mark move to 5-29 overall after the sweep, 1-13 in NSIC play, while Concordia-St. Paul moved to 23-10-1 and 9-5 in the league. Bemidji State is back in action on Tuesday, April 25 in a two-game non-conference double-header at North Dakota. First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m. Central time in Grand Forks, N.D.