SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – For the second night in a row, the eighth inning proved disastrous for the South Dakota State University baseball team. Western Illinois scored four times in the bottom of the eighth en route to a 5-2 victory Friday night at Sioux Falls Stadium, eliminating the Jackrabbits from the Summit League Baseball Championship.
Second-seeded Western Illinois, which improved to 21-31 overall, will face fourth-seeded North Dakota State in the tournament championship at 1 p.m. Saturday. A second game, if necessary, would follow immediately. SDSU, the defending tournament champion and top seed, ended its season with a 28-29 overall mark.
All of Western's damage in the eighth inning came with two outs. Jackrabbit reliever Andrew Clemen retired the first two batters, extending his scoreless innings streak to 15 before Tanner Glore singled to right field. Jake Moore then lined a single that got through right fielder Scott Splett, allowing Glore to score all the way from first and Moore to move to third. After a walk to Adam McGinnis, Brett Turner dumped a single into center to score Moore with the go-ahead run. After Payton Jeffers was hit by a pitch to load the bases, J.J. Reimer dropped a bunt single down the third-base line and the ensuing throw to the plate was errant, allowing both McGinnis and Turner to score.
WIU reliever Tyler Owings pitched a perfect ninth inning for his sixth save of the season.
The Jackrabbits put the first run of the game on the board in the top of the first inning. Splett led off with an infield single, followed by walks to Zach Coppola and Aaron Machbitz to load the bases. Paul Jacobson then stepped to the plate and lifting a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Splett.
Western tied the game in the third on a sacrifice fly by Jameson Henning, before the Jackrabbits regained the lead in the top of the seventh on a single to left field by Machbitz that scored Splett.
SDSU starter Chris Anderson exited after 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out two and walked one. His counterpart, Tom Constand, worked 6 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking four while giving up two runs on five hits.
Reimer was 3-for-4, with Payton Jeffers adding a pair of hits to lead the Fighting Leathernecks' 11-hit attack. SDSU's seven hits were spread among seven different players. Coppola recorded three of the Jackrabbits' season-high four stolen bases in the game.
Friday's game was played before a crowd of 1,196.
Courtesy: SDSU Jason Hove