SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Brandan Alfson tossed eight-plus innings, allowing just three runs and no walks, while Patrick Rients belted his NCAA Division II leading 19th home run of the season to lead Southwest Minnesota State to a 5-3 victory over Northern State in an elimination game at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament at Ronken Field on Wednesday night.
SMSU (27-22) will now play Thursday at 7 p.m. versus the Winona State/Wayne State loser at Sioux Falls Stadium.
Alfson (4-1) – who defeated NSU on Sunday with a two-hit 7-inning shutout – tossed 97 pitches, including 73 for strikes, in defeating the Wolves for the third time this season. He allowed seven hits tonight and recorded two strikeouts. Alfson left the game in the top of the ninth after allowing a home run and a double, but Jimmy Callahan came in and retired all three batters he faced to record his first save of the season.
In three starts this season versus NSU, Alfson tossed 21 innings, allowing 15 hits and five earned runs with 13 strikeouts and no walks.
Alfson also had a strong game at the plate going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Sam Haas and Austin Stubbs both collected two hits and one RBI.
NSU started the game’s scoring in the top of the second as Robbie Rocamora lined an opposite field shot over the right field wall for his team-leading ninth home run of the season.
NSU maintained the lead until the fourth when Rients worked a one out and was quickly followed by an RBI double by Stubbs to tie the game at 1-1. Following a ground out, Alfson came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to score Stubbs to give SMSU a 2-1 lead. Haas then came through and dropped a double down the left field line to extend the lead to 3-1.
Alfson then took command and retired 14 of 15 NSU batters from the fourth through eighth innings, allowing just a one-out double in the fifth inning.
SMSU added to its lead in the fifth as Rients lined a 1-0 pitch over the center field fence for a two-run homer to make the score 5-1.
Rocamora connected on another solo homer to lead off the ninth and was followed by Alex Cornwell’s double to end Alfson’s night. Callahan then entered the game – his first relief appearance of the season – and coaxed two ground outs and a fly out to secure the victory.
The Mustangs ended the game with nine hits, while the Wolves had seven hits with Rocamora finishing 3 for 4.
SMSU defeated NSU seven out of eight meetings this season, including three times in Arizona in March and three of four this past weekend in Marshall.
Courtesy: SMSU Kelly Loft