Beating the ‘big guys’


For the Jackrabbits baseball team to beat Minnesota, it takes two.

Two-out hitting, that is.

SDSU drove in all nine of their runs with two away to defeat the Golden Gophers for the fourth consecutive time, 9-6 at Erv Huether Field Wednesday.

Coach Ritchie Price attributed a lot of it to “luck,” but the recipe worked for the Jacks, completing a clean sweep of Big Ten opponents this season. SDSU won a two-game series against Iowa earlier this year.

“For our guys, we’re excited to play those guys because they’re one of the premier schools in this part of the country. I think it shows the depth of our team, talent-wise,” Price said.

Following a Minnesota run in the first inning, the Jackrabbits took the lead in the second inning with a Zach Briggs single that glanced off Gopher first baseman Nick O’Shea’s glove, allowing Eric Cain to come around to score. Billy Stitz drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Jacks a 2-1 lead before busting the lead open in the third.

Catcher Zach Briggs cleared the bases with a double to right field and Beau Hanowski picked up a double, with Billy Stitz and Phil Paquette following with RBI singles. SDSU saw seven straight hitters reach base – all with two outs – to construct an 8-1 advantage at the end of three frames. Briggs’ double was the catalyst for it all.

“We were facing a submariner and we move up in the box against those guys and went with it. The wind might have helped me a little with the distance but it felt good,” said the junior catcher of his double.

“A lot of it is luck,” said Price, of the team’s streaky two-out hitting. “The one inning, with the six spot [in the third], you have a groundball up the middle and a couple of bloopers. Sometimes when you’re going good, those things happen.”

Minnesota would score five runs in as many innings, pulling to 8-6 in the eighth inning. Briggs would pick up the final of his five RBI’s with a bases-loaded walk, bumping the score up to its final 9-6 margin. Five of the Jacks runs were scored by the 7-8-9 hitters in the SDSU batting order.

“Giving us that at the bottom of the lineup allows us to turn the lineup over at the top and have a chance to put up a lot of runs,” Price said.

Despite SDSU’s prowess at the plate, Shane Kraemer struggled on the mound, failing to get out of the fourth inning after five walks and four earned runs. Austin Busse picked up the win and closer Trever Vermeulen closed the door in the eighth and ninth innings for his sixth save of the season. Four of Vermeulen’s career 19 saves have come against the Golden Gophers.

The Jackrabbits are now 7-1 against the Big Ten over the last two seasons. More importantly, they’ve won 21 of 23 ballgames, with nine of their last 14 regular season games at home.

“As a team, it’s nice being able to go out and prove ourselves against the ‘big guys’ and I think we’ve been able to do that this year,” Briggs said.