BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — Ryan McDonald’s single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning plated the winning run for South Dakota State in a 2-1 victory over St. Thomas to complete a sweep of a three-game Summit League baseball series Monday afternoon at Bob Shelden Field.
In posting their 10th victory in a row, the Jackrabbits reached the .500 mark overall at 17-17 and improved to 10-5 in league play. St. Thomas fell to 5-23 overall and 3-9 in The Summit League.
Thatcher Kozal started the game-winning rally by legging out an infield single on a chopper past the pitcher and to the right side of the infield. Jess Bellows followed with his second hit of the game two batters later and Reece Anderson loaded the bases with a walk. The nation’s leader in slugging percentage, McDonald then lofted the first pitch he saw from Duke Coborn to the fence in center field to plate Kozal with the winning run.
McDonald also factored in the Jackrabbits’ first run of the game, leading off the home half of the first with a double down the right-field line before moving up a base on a passed ball and scoring on a wild pitch.
The double by McDonald would be the only hit by the Jackrabbits against St. Thomas starter Evan Esch. The left-hander struck out a career-high 11 batters and walked five over six innings. In one stretch, Esch retired 13 batters in a row.
SDSU starter Blake Kunz was nearly equal to the task as the right-hander turned in his best performance of the season. Kunz struck out six and walked two over six innings, with the only blemish on the day being a solo home run by Ben Taxdahl in the top of the fourth. It was Taxdahl’s second home run of the series.
Eli Sundquist fanned four batters over two shutout innings in relief for the Jackrabbits, while Ryan Bourassa added two K’s in an inning of work en route to picking up his third victory of the season.
The Jackrabbits finished with a 6-5 advantage in hits with Bellows and McDonald each recording two hits. Joe Roder tallied three hits for St. Thomas.
SDSU is back on the road for a game Wednesday night at Nebraska. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Nebraska.
- The Jackrabbits have won all nine meetings against St. Thomas
- SDSU’s winning streak is its longest since a 10-game winning streak in April 2011
- McDonald recorded his 15th multi-hit game of the season
- Luke Ira had his hitting streak end at 13 games
- Kozal extended his hitting streak to six games
- SDSU reached the .500 mark for the first time this season since starting the year with a 1-1 record