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SMSU and Northern State split baseball doubleheader

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WEBSTER, S.D. (SMSU) — Wes Sarland fired a career-high seven-plus innings while recording a career-high eight strikeouts to help Southwest Minnesota State earn an 8-6 victory and salvage a split versus Northern State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference baseball on Tuesday at Bob Wiley Field. NSU won the opener 2-1, handing SMSU its seventh one-run loss in league play.

The two games, played in tough conditions with strong wind and rainy conditions, were relocated to Webster due to construction issues at Fossum Field in Aberdeen, S.D.

Sarsland, making just his third start of the season, moved to 1-1 on the season pitching into the eighth inning. He allowed just one run on five hits with three walks.

The Mustangs opened the scoring in the top of the second taking advantage of a big Wolves error. Ben Heichel reached on a one-out error and following a pop out, Jake Hendricks double to right field to score the game’s first run. Derek Smith then answered with another double to put SMSU in front 2-0.

NSU (22-22, 17-15), which is battling for a spot in the upcoming NSIC Tournament, cut the lead in half in the third inning stringing together three bases hits to make the score 2-1.

SMSU (10-25, 9-21 NSIC) put together a big inning in the top of the fourth with four runs on just one hit. Heichel started the rally with a hit and moved to second on Tanner Strommen ground ball that was booted for an error. Both runners moved up on a ground out, before Smith reached on a fielder’s choice ground ball that scored Heichel for the inning’s first run. Strommen moments later scored on a passed ball before Smith came around to score on a ground out by Connor Johnson. Kip Gronholz, who walked earlier in the inning, scored the final run of the frame on a wild pitch to push the margin to 6-1.

It would remain a five-run lead until ninth when the Mustangs picked up a pair of big insurance runs. Nathan Kuhn worked a one-out walk and moved to third on a double by Brady Lanoue. Jayden Fleck then reached on an error that allowed both runners to score and give SMSU an 8-1 advantage.

Josh Meyer, who came on in relief in the eighth and stranded two runners, opened the ninth with a strikeout. Following a fielding error, Meyer struck out another batter for the second out of the inning. The Wolves wouldn’t quit and put together a pair of hits, two more SMSU errors and another base hit to score five runs and bring the tying run to the plate. Teddy Broxterman was then summoned to close out the game and he did just that, coaxing a ground out to seal the victory and notch his team-leading fifth save of the season.

SMSU had just four hits in the game with Lanoue, Heichel, Hendricks and Smith each with one.

In the opener, pitching on both sides was dominate as the teams combined for just six hits.

SMSU starting pitcher Spencer Schroeder retired the first eight batters of the game before Jeff Disla lofted a home run over the left field fence to give NSU a 1-0 lead in the third inning.

NSU’s Luke Chevalier, one of the top pitchers in the conference, allowed just one SMSU batter to reach base in the first four innings before Strommen stroked the Mustangs’ first hit with one out in the fifth inning. Following a walk to Hendricks, Chevalier struck out the next two batters to keep the Wolves in front.

NSU added to the lead in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI bunt single to push the lead to 2-0.

SMSU left another runner on base in the sixth before finally breaking through in the seventh inning. Strommen hit a one-out single and following a strikeout, Robbie Smith was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on base. Andy Andresen came through with a pinch-hit RBI single to cut the lead in half, but NSU’s Tyler Jones came on in relief and closed the game with a pop out to earn his third save of the season. SMSU has stranded the go-ahead run on base in each of its last three losses.

Schroeder (2-2) was the tough-luck loser for the Mustangs as he allowed two runs on three hits with one walk and zero strikeouts.

Chevalier finished the game allowing three hits while recording 11 strikeouts.

Southwest Minnesota State closes out the season on Friday and Saturday hosting St. Cloud State in a three-game series at Alumni Field. Friday’s doubleheader is set to begin at 1:30 p.m.

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