The hot bat of Trevor Crow was exactly what the Cougars needed today, as his six combined hits paced USF to 6-0 and 10-7 wins over Minnesota Crookston in the NSIC opener for both teams.
Due to unplayable conditions at Harmodon Field, the twinbill was played at Voss Field in South Sioux City, Neb. With the victories, USF improved to 8-7 (2-0, NSIC) while the Golden Eagles slumped to 1-13 overall and 0-2 in the league loop.
Derek Fischer clipped the Golden Eagles' wings in the opener, tossing a complete game five-hitter and striking out seven as USF rolled to a 6-0 victory.
The Cougars did their scoreboard damage because speed kills, so they say. And senior infielder Ryan Fobes showed as much in the first inning: stealing second and third in succession after drawing a one-out walk and then scored when Crow knocked an infield single to the shortstop.
Fischer punched out the first two Golden Eagles in the top of the second and induced a ground out back to the mound for the final out.
Austin Goodenow lashed a double into the corner in left field to lead off the bottom half of the second, moved up to third base on a wild pitch, then scored on a sac fly by Dylan Dwyer to make it 2-0.
Fischer retired the Crookston side in the third on eight pitches before the Cougars doubled their lead to 4-0 in their half of the frame with Crow’s RBI triple and a ground out off the bat of Jeremy Varner.
The Cougars added to their lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Dwyer led off with a single and progressed along the bases on a base knock from Anthony Lopez and a fielder’s choice and was plated with Noah Durkin’s two-bagger to left field. Gunner Peterson was on third after Durkin’s double and an error by the UMC shortstop allowed Peterson to cross home plate for USF’s final tally.
The Golden Eagles singled off Fischer in the sixth and loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a pair of Cougar errors, but Dwyer tagged out the runner at home on the ensuing fielder’s choice and Fischer rung up the next two batters to escape without allowing a run.
The Golden Eagles led off the seventh with back-to-back singles but Robbie Smothers was caught stealing third to erase just the fourth man that Crookston moved into scoring position in the game. Fischer took care of the final batter on one pitch when Jesse Jennings flied out to center.
Fischer's final pitching line: 7IP, 5H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 7SO. He threw 83 pitches, 53 for strikes, for his fifth career complete game shutout.
The Cougars scored their six runs on just eight hits and were paced by Crow, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Goodenow also had two hits while Fobes was 1-for-2 and scored two runs. USF walked twice and struck out four times.
USF then concluded its opening day of conference play with a 10-7 victory in the nightcap against the Golden Eagles.
Crookston touched Cougar starter Elijah Thornquist for three runs in the first inning before USF got one back in with two outs in the bottom of the second when Lopez ripped a single to center, scoring Dwyer and making in 3-1 in favor of UMC.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth, when the speedster Fobes laid down a two-out bunt single. On the basepaths moments later, he alertly stole second and was drove home by another RBI base knock from Crow.
Thornquist walked Travis Magdzas to lead off the sixth and he later scored on a ground-out to give the Eagles a 4-2 advantage heading to the bottom half of the frame.
Trailing 4-2, USF rallied in the sixth to score four runs with two outs to take their first lead of the game. Dwyer got things going with a line drive single to center and advanced to second when Crookston starter Jon Mittag beaned Lopez. The pair then executed a double steal before Peterson worked a 3-1 into a free pass to load the bases. Durkin singled into the left center gap to plate both runners and tie the game at 4-4. Fobes tapped an infield single to put ducks on the pond again and Crow greeted Mittag with an RBI single. The bases were still juiced when Jeremy Varner walked on five pitches and USF took a 6-4 lead into the seventh.
Crookston responded quickly, as the visitors sent seven batters to the plate in the top of the seventh to score three runs on a combination of two hits and a pair of Cougar miscues to go in front 7-6.
But the Cougars came roaring back, plating four runs in the seventh make it a 10-7 ballgame. Jordan Jeske kick-started the rally with a lead-off double and scored on a single by Dwyer to chase Mitta. UMC reliever Ryan Paasch then entered the game but was quickly in a jam after Lopez reached base when his bunt was mishandled by the first baseman. Paasch promptly gave up a two-run single to Durkin and Fobes followed with an RBI single to cap the inning.
Freshman Connor Gibson pitched two hitless innings to close out the Eagles and earn his second save of the season. Thornquist allowed six runs on six hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out seven before handing the ball off to Varner (1-0), who stood in line for the win after giving up one run on two hits in the seventh inning.
Durkin was 2-for-5 with 4 ribbies, while Crow finished 4-for-5 with two RBI. Dwyer went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Fobes notched three hits, one RBI, scored a run and drew a walk. The top of the Cougar lineup (Durkin/Fobes/Crow) accounted for nine of USF’s 15 hits.
USF will wrap up its four-game series with Crookston tomorrow at Voss Field, with a double-header scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
About University of Sioux Falls Athletics
USF is an institution with membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the NCAA Division II. Men and women compete in 15 varsity sports. USFCOUGARS.com is the official site of USF Athletics.
About the University of Sioux Falls
A transformative university committed to academic excellence and celebration of the Christian faith, the University of Sioux Falls offers more than 80 undergraduate programs as well as graduate programs in business and education. For more information about USF, visit www.usiouxfalls.edu or call 605-331-5000.
Courtesy: Stephanie Pendrys, Sports Information Coordinator, University of Sioux Falls