SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (SDSU) — South Dakota State hit nine home runs, including four by Nic Nelson, in recording a doubleheader sweep of Northern Colorado in Summit League baseball action Sunday afternoon at Ronken Field.

With the 7-6 and 18-7 victories, the Jackrabbits improved to 12-9 in league play and clinched a spot in the upcoming four-team Summit League Baseball Championship. Overall, SDSU improved to 21-23 overall while UNC dropped to 9-33 on the season, including a 6-15 mark in The Summit League.

Game 1: SDSU 7, Northern Colorado 6
The Jackrabbits answered every challenge from Northern Colorado to hold the Bears for a one-run victory in the opener.

SDSU never trailed, scoring twice in the first inning on run-scoring singles by Nelson and Cade Stuff before Nelson countered a UNC run in the top of the third inning with his first home run of the day, a solo shot to left in the home half of the frame.

The Bears drew back to within a run at 3-2 on Hayden Heinze’s second sacrifice fly of the game in the fifth, but the Jackrabbits built their lead to 5-2 on an RBI double by Dawson Parry in the bottom of the inning and Drew Beazley launched a solo home to center field in the sixth.

UNC wouldn’t go down without a fight, scoring twice in both the seventh and eighth innings around sacrifice flies by Nelson and Stuff in the bottom of the seventh.

Ryan Bourassa, who pitched the final three innings for the Jackrabbits, worked around a two-out single in the ninth to finish off his seventh save of the season with his second strikeout of the contest.

Brady Hawkins, who recorded the final two outs of the fifth inning, was credited with his first victory of the season. Reece Arbogast worked the first 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking two.

Nelson was 2-for-3 and drove in three runs to lead the Jackrabbits’ six-hit effort. Reece Anderson scored three times and also saved a couple of runs with his defense by throwing out a runner at home on the back end of a double play to end the second inning and making a diving catch with two men on for the final out of the third.

UNC starter Murphy Gienger struck out eight and walked three over 5 2/3 innings.

Game 2: SDSU 18, Northern Colorado 7 (7 inn.)
Nelson homered three times as the Jackrabbits overcame a sluggish start to put the game away with a pair of six-run innings.

SDSU trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the third when the home run barrage got into full swing. Parry and Nelson began the third with back-to-back homers, with Thatcher Kozal and Reece Anderson following suit to open the fourth. The SDSU lead grew to 6-4 on an RBI infield single by Jess Bellows that brought in Nelson for the second of his four runs scored.

UNC tied the game at 6-all in the top of the fifth on a two-run home run by Jackson Romero, but from there it was all Jackrabbits.

Luke Ira’s second grand slam and 13th home run of the season gave the Jackrabbits the lead for good and Nelson followed two batters later by lining his second home run of the game just inside the left-field foul pole. Bellows’ second RBI single of the game capped the first six-run inning.

The Jackrabbits put the 10-run rule into effect with another six-run inning that featured Nelson’s third round-tripper of the game, a blast to right-center field. Parry and Dagen Schramm delivered run-scoring singles and Beazley contributed a sacrifice fly.

A senior third baseman from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Nelson became the third Jackrabbit player in the Division I era (since 2005) to hit three home runs in a game, joining Joel Blake (April 24, 2009, at Western Illinois) and Landon Badger (April 24, 2021, vs. North Dakota State).

Anderson, Nelson and Bellows each tallied a career-high four hits as the Jackrabbits accumulated 19 hits in the game. Nelson ended the day with 12 home runs for the season, becoming the third Jackrabbit to reach double figures in the category this season after Ryan McDonald (17) and Ira (13).

Romero was 3-for-3 for the Bears, who chased SDSU starter Jake Goble after striking for four runs over 2 2/3 innings. Dylan Richey came on to strike out five over two innings before Dylan Driessen added three K’s over 1 1/3 innings to pick up the win for the Jackrabbits. Dane Toman added a strikeout in the final inning.

UNC sent six different hurlers to the mound, with Zack Herrick, who allowed the grand slam to Ira, taking the loss.

The Jackrabbits are scheduled to play a makeup game Tuesday at Minnesota. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Siebert Field on the U of M campus in Minneapolis.

From there, the Jackrabbits will close out Summit League regular season play with a three-game series Thursday through Saturday at North Dakota State.


  • SDSU and UNC split the season series at three games apiece
  • The Jackrabbits lead the all-time series, 40-28
  • Nelson doubled in his first at-bat of Game 2 to give him 14 total bases, a total which stands as the most by a Jackrabbit player in a Division I game
  • Nelson finished the series with a .667 batting average (8-for-12) with RBIs and a 1.750 slugging percentage (four home runs, one double)
  • Ira’s grand slam was the sixth of the season for SDSU
  • SDSU matched a season high with seven home runs in Game 2
  • The Jackrabbits upped their team home run total to 79 this season, putting the 2023 squad within five of the school record of 84 set in 2010
  • Ira moved into ninth place in career total bases for the Jackrabbits with 353 and now stands 11th in school history with 28 career home runs
  • Bourassa upped his career saves total to 14, tying him with Gary Olechoski (2003-06) for fourth place on the Jackrabbits all-time charts
  • Sunday’s games were moved to Sioux Falls due to unplayable conditions at Erv Huether Field after persistent rain over the weekend
  • The Jackrabbits finished with a 10-1 record in games played in South Dakota this season, despite playing only one game at Erv Huether Field