SDSU unleashes hit parade in sweep of Leathernecks

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

The SDSU baseball team found their offensive rhythm and they found it in a big way, sweeping a four-game series from Western Illinois on April 24-26 in Macomb, Ill.

The Jacks scored over 10 runs in every game of the series and moved into fourth place in the Summit League, which would earn them a spot in the Summit League championship.

“We are playing good baseball right now, the big thing is we are hitting all the way through our lineup,” head coach Ritchie Price said. “That has allowed us to continue to score in consecutive innings.”

In the first game of the series, the Jacks rallied from a 5-0 hole to post a 19-11 victory over the Leathernecks.

With the Jacks trailing 9-6 in the top of the sixth, the Jacks scored the next 10 runs, four in the sixth and six runs in the seventh, to take the lead for good. Joel Blake hit three home runs in the win for the Jacks while Jesse Sawyer homered twice, hitting a home run in his fifth straight game.

Mike Robinson earned the win in relief of Sam Pieczynski, pitching three innings and striking out two.

The Jacks again rallied from an early hole in the second game, taking a 16-13 victory.

After the Jacks took an early 4-2 lead, they found themselves trailing WIU 8-4 entering the fifth. But the floodgates opened in the top of the fifth, as the Jacks sent 13 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs. Zach Briggs hit a two-run single, Billy Stitz added a three-run triple and Stephen Turner hit a three-run homer, his second of the day.

The offensive onslaught continued in the third game, scoring in every inning in the 14-7 victory.

SDSU scored three times in the first and four runs in the sixth en route to doubling up the Leathernecks. John Lee, Turner and Briggs all homered for the Jacks, with Turner and Briggs each driving in three runs in the game.

The Jacks finished off the sweep with a 16-7 victory on April 26. The Jacks scored nine runs in the first two innings and cruised to the easy victory. The Jacks homered five times in the game-they homered 16 times in the series-with Sawyer hitting two-his fourth of the series-and Briggs, Stitz and Jesse Ayala each added one.

The Jackrabbit offensive had struggled early in the year, but is now finding their rhythm entering the home stretch.

“The main difference is simple; we are simply playing teams the last couple weeks that are more at our level,” Price said. “Our strength of schedule was 65 in the country going into the NDSU series. Now that we have started to play the smaller mid-major teams, we have taken advantage of the tough pitching we faced that has prepared us for the final stretch of conference play. The pitchers we face are not throwing as hard and their sliders are not as sharp, as a result we are laying off pitches out of the zone and not missing the fastball when we get it.”

With the Jacks in fourth place, the Jacks look to make the final push for the playoffs. The Jacks close out the season with a 14-game home stand that started against Creighton on April 28; the Jacks lost 5-2.

The Jacks follow the single game against Creighton with a four-game series against Oakland, IPFW and Southern Utah.

“Last weekend was huge,” Price said. “To go 5-6 in conference on the road is great; it has now put us in position with something to play for the final three weeks. Now if we can take care of business at home, then we have a shot of achieving our goal of making the conference tournament which is what we set out to do at the beginning of the year.”