SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Kyle Kleinendorst gave North Dakota State the lead with a two-run triple in the top of the eighth inning and the Bison held on for a 4-3 victory over top-seeded South Dakota State Thursday night in the opening game for both teams at the Summit League Baseball Championship.
The fourth-seeded Bison improved to 23-24 overall and will face second-seeded Western Illinois at 3 p.m. Friday. SDSU, the defending tournament champion, dropped to 27-28 overall and will face third-seeded Fort Wayne in an elimination game at 11 a.m. Friday at Sioux Falls Stadium. Western Illinois defeated Fort Wayne, 8-7 in 10 innings in Thursday's first game.
Trailing 2-1, the Bison rally in the eighth inning began with a one-out infield single by Jon Hechtner, followed by a walk to Wes Satzinger. Kleinendorst then stepped to the plate and launched a 3-2 pitch for a triple off the wall in right center off SDSU starter Adam Bray to plate both Hechtner and Satzinger. Kleinendorst later scored on a wild pitch by Jackrabbit reliever J.D. Moore.
The Jackrabbits stranded two runners in the home half of the eighth, then put together a two-out rally in the ninth to draw to within a run on back-to-back two-out doubles by Scott Splett and Zach Coppola. However, Bison closer Trevor Jaunich got Aaron Machbitz, who was 3-for-5 in the game, to pop out to second base to end the game.
NDSU drew first blood with four first inning singles. Tim Colwell led off with a base hit and moved to second on a bunt single by Hechtner, who led the 11-hit attack for the Bison by going 3-for-5. After a flyout, Nick Altavilla drove in the first run of the game with a two-out single to left. Michael Leach later added the fourth Bison hit of the inning, but Coppola threw Hechtner out at the plate to end the frame.
The Bison also had a runner cut down at the plate in the third inning on a safety squeeze to keep the game at 1-0.
SDSU pulled even in the fifth inning, ending a streak of 12 consecutive batters retired by Bison starter David Ernst with consecutive singles by Sam Pack and Cody Sharrow. Pack scored the tying run on an RBI groundout by Tyler Shannon.
The Jackrabbits took a 2-1 lead in the sixth. Machbitz and Matt Johnson each singled with one out, with both runners moving up a base on a groundout. Zach Holt then dropped a bunt single down the third-base line to score Machbitz.
Ernst picked his second win over the Jackrabbits in a week, striking out three and walking one in 7 2/3 innings. Jaunich earned his seventh save of the season, recording three of his four outs by strikeout.
Bray fanned Bison, fanned eight and walked only one in 7 2/3 innings, falling to 5-7 on the season. Splett and Sharrow tallied a pair of hits for the Jackrabbits, who also finished the night with 11 hits.
Attendance at Sioux Falls Stadium was 1,654.
NOTES: SDSU leads the all-time series against the Bison, 102-58 … NDSU recorded its first win over the Jackrabbits in Summit League tournament action in five tries … the Jackrabbits dropped to 10-8 in five Summit League tournament appearances … Bray became the second Jackrabbit pitcher to top 100 innings in a season, ending the night with 103 … Matt Bowman is the single-season innings pitched leader with 104.2 in 2007 … Bray moved into fourth in career strikeouts with 184, moving past Layne Somsen (180 strikeouts from 2009-13) and third in single-season strikeouts with 95
Courtesy: SDSU Jason Hove