South Dakota State held on for a one-run win in the opener before Western Illinois’ C.J. Schaeffer hit a game-winning walkoff grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in Game 2 as the Jackrabbits and Leathernecks split a baseball doubleheader Saturday afternoon to open Summit League play.
SDSU ended the day 8-9 overall, while Western Illinois moved to 5-11. The games were moved from the WIU campus in Macomb to the University of Illinois-Springfield due to concerns over weather and field conditions.
Game 1: South Dakota State 7, Western Illinois 6
Tyler Olmstead carried a shutout into the ninth inning before the Jackrabbits held off a furious Western Illinois comeback.
A junior from Sioux Falls, Olmstead struck out six and walked only two in earning his first victory of the season. He exited after giving up a two-run single to Drue Galassi with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Reliever Alex Marro gave up an RBI double to Nolan Ard, a sacrifice fly and a two-run home run to Deion Thompson before Bret Barnett came on to record the final out for the save in a second consecutive game in which the Jackrabbits nearly squandered a big ninth-inning lead.
SDSU broke a scoreless deadlock with a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Nick Smith scored on a sacrifice fly by Braeden Brown before Josh Falk’s single plated Gus Steiger. Brown and Falk accounted for three more Jackrabbits runs in the seventh as Brown plated one with a groundout and Falk added a two-run single up the middle that scored both Smith and Steiger, knocking out Leatherneck starter Javin Drake.
The Jackrabbits added what proved to be two valuable insurance runs in the top of the eighth as Luke Ira doubled in the first run and later scored on the back end of a double steal.
WIU held an 11-9 advantage in hits and was led by Justin Fitzpatrick’s three hits in four trips to the plate. Steiger was 3-for-5 for the Jackrabbits, while Falk and Ira each tallied two hits.
Game 2: Western Illinois 10, South Dakota State 6
WIU again rallied from an early deficit to salvage a doubleheader split.
The Jackrabbits jumped out of the gates quickly, hitting home runs in each of the first three innings to build a 5-0 lead. Falk started the scoring with his second home run of the season, a two-run shot down the right-field line, while freshman Drew Beazley connected on his first collegiate home run with a solo shot to right in the top of the season.
Steiger upped the lead to 5-0 with a two-run homer to center in the third.
The Leathernecks put up three runs in the fourth inning against SDSU starter Ryan Froom, then tied the game at 5-all with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Alex Dorethy started the rally in the fourth and added an RBI single in the fifth. The sixth-inning run scored on the Jackrabbits’ lone error of the game.
SDSU regained a 6-5 lead momentarily in the top of the eighth as Beazley doubled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ira.
Galassi plated Steve McShane with the tying run in the bottom of the eighth on a double.
The winning rally for WIU began with a leadoff walk to Kevin Raisbeck, who later moved up a base on a balk. Thompson reached on a bunt single and Bailey Montgomery was intentionally walked after Thompson stole second. That set the stage for Schaeffer, who belted a grand slam to right field to end the game.
Schaeffer was one of three Leathernecks with two hits as WIU posted a 10-9 advantage in hits. Logan Holtz and Beazley each finished with two hits for the Jackrabbits.
Froom struck out four and walked three over 5 1/3 innings as he finished with a no-decision. Cody Carlson took the loss after surrendering the final five runs over three innings, walking one and striking out five.
Jack Carberry allowed only one run over the final three innings in relief to earn the win for Western Illinois.
The two squads are scheduled to play the decisive game of their three-game series at noon Sunday at the UIS Baseball Field.
- SDSU leads the all-time series, 33-24, dating back to 2006
- The Jackrabbits went 10 games without a home run before hitting three in the second game of the twinbill
- SDSU’s three home runs in Game 2 tied a season high first set in the Feb. 15 season opener against UT Martin
- Holtz had his hitting streak of 10 games and string of reaching base safely in 14 consecutive games both end in Game 1
- Steiger has hit safely in nine straight games and reached base in 12 in a row
- Smith extended his hitting streak to eight games with hits in both games
- Olmstead’s 8 1/3 innings pitched marked the longest start by a Jackrabbit this season
- Froom moved into fourth place in career innings pitched at SDSU with 219 2/3, passing both Layne Somsen (215 from 2009-13) and Trevor Schulte (218 1/3 from 1991-94)
- Froom also moved into a tie with Billy McMacken (1987-90) for fourth place on the SDSU with his 39thcareer start, breaking a tie with Somsen (38 starts) for fifth place
- The Jackrabbits turned a combined three double plays in the doubleheader