Over the weekend, South Dakota State dropped two of their three games to the Summit League-leading Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
It was an improvement from their earlier series, where the Golden Eagles swept the Jackrabbits.
The Jacks won the first game 3-1, then the Golden Eagles struck back with 7-3 and 8-1 victories.
In the series opener, the Jacks were led by sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Brady Stover, who fanned 10 batters in six and one-third innings.
During the second game, the Jacks pushed their lead to 3-0, but squandered it when the Mastodons scored seven straight unanswered runs.
The Jacks batted a .132 average in the series, leaving 28 batters on base.
The struggle continued for sophomore right-hander Brady Moxham, who has a 6.34 ERA. He will be moved down in the rotation to the third spot. Sophomore right-hander, Tyler Olmstead, who is 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA, will move into the second spot.
Despite their early season struggles, the Jacks are now third in the Summit League, behind Oral Roberts and Omaha.
On Wednesday, April 25, the Jacks will stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for a non conference game to take on the No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers at Siebert Field.
“We want to win, but to me it’s more about our team development,” head coach Rob Bishop said.
Up next in the Summit League, the Jacks will travel to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to take on last-place Fort Wayne Mastodons.
In their last encounter, the Jacks dominated the Mastodons, sweeping them in a three-game series.
The Mastodons (9-24, 5-13) will be coming off a weekend sweep of the second-place Omaha Mavericks where they plated 27 runs in three games.
Prior to that series, the Mastodons have struggled throughout the season. A main stressor for the Jacks will be to stop their momentum.
“Hopefully we will be able to come out in that first game and set the tone and cool those bats off, each week has its own momentum,” Bishop said. “We have to do a good job on Friday.”
Being the worst team in the Summit League hasn’t translated to the Mastodons’ bats. Fort Wayne batters rarely strikeout, with only 210 on the season — the least amount of strikeouts in the Summit League.
“They are really aggressive,” Bishop said. “They swing early and they have some power. They are a team that when they get offensive momentum, they can get a lot of runs.”
Despite having the second-best batting average in the Summit League at .251, the Mastodons haven’t been able to take advantage of baserunners scoring just 132 runs in their 33 games.
Sophomore second baseman Mike Snyder had a weekend in which he batted .429 and won a share of Summit League Player of the Week.
Senior starting pitcher Brandon Phelps has led the way with a 4-3 record and a 4.58 ERA.
Part of the season’s struggle for the Mastodons has been their inability to pitch and play defense effectively. As a team, the Mastodons own a league-worst 6.78 ERA.
Fort Wayne has committed 59 errors in 33 games this season, which is another Summit League low.
Despite having a rough season, the Mastodons have been best at Mastodon Field, their home stadium, where they are 5-6.
“Everyone is better at home,” Bishop said.
The three-game series against Fort Wayne will begin at 2 p.m. April 27, and the second game will start at 1 p.m. on April 28. The series finale between SDSU and Fort Wayne will start at noon April 29.
“Thursday morning we will drive to Fort Wayne, practice Thursday night, then hopefully play three good games and come back and take our finals,” Bishop said.