Jacks cannot overcome big innings

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

The Summit League series opener was a disappointment for the SDSU baseball team.

The Jacks went 1-3 in a four-game series against Centenary on April 3 to 5 in Shreveport, La.

In the opening game of the series, the Gents were able to jump out to an early 7-0 lead and were never really threatened in claiming a 10-1 victory. With the Jacks already trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third, Centenary delivered a knockout blow in the form of a five-run inning. With two runs already across in the inning, Centenary’s Ricky Imperial hit a two-run double, which was followed by a single by Travis Leverson that all but put the game away. The Jacks were able to get a run back in the fifth on a bases loaded walk, but that was all SDSU would be able to get.

Centenary’s Justin Kraft was able to hold the Jacks to just four hits over six innings, and Derek Dalzell held the Jacks hitless in three innings of work. While the Jacks were only able to manage four hits, they left 12 runners on base in the game.

“We have struggled scoring runs, there is no doubt about it; it is what it is,” head coach Ritchie Price said. “To win games you have to make plays and get hits in clutch situations, and to this point, we have struggled doing that.”

The Jacks were able to bounce back in the first game of a doubleheader on April 4, earning a 9-6 victory. With the Jacks trailing 5-3 entering the sixth inning, SDSU was able to hang a six on the Gents to take a four-run lead.

With two runs already across in the sixth, Billy Stitz gave the Jacks the lead for good on a sacrifice fly to score Beau Hawnoski; the Jacks were able to post three more runs in the inning on an RBI double from Jesse Sawyer and a two-run single from Stephen Turner.

Caleb Thielbar got the win for the Jacks on the mound, pitching five innings in relief of starter Mike Robinson. Sawyer led the Jacks at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a two-run home run in the first.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Gents jumped all over the Jacks getting to starter Sam Pieczynski, who was making his first collegiate start, early and often in a 16-5 drubbing. Pieczynski was only able to retire one batter in his start and gave up seven runs before leaving the game. Price said that once the Gents were able to get going, it snowballed.

“They are a good hitting team, and we weren’t able to limit them in those big innings,” the first-year coach said.

Sawyer and Tony Martin led the Jacks at the plate in game three, each going 2-for-4 with an RBI.

The Jacks fell behind early in the final game of the series and could not overcome the deficit in a 5-4 setback.

With the Jacks trailing 3-0 in the sixth, SDSU was able to put two unearned runs on the board after Martin reached on an error. With Martin on first, Turner tripled to right field; Turner was able to come around to score on a single by Zach Briggs.

The Gents got the two runs back in the seventh, but the Jacks were able to chip away at the lead in the top of the eighth. With two runners on, Turner hit a single to right field to score Sawyer, but that was all the damage the Jacks could do in the inning.

SDSU had one more rally in them. With two outs, Joel Blake singled to left to score John Lee, but Dalzell was able to end the threat by inducing a ground out to short by Sawyer to end the game.

“Overall the weekend was frustrating,” Price said. “Getting out of there with one win was big considering they are 20-5 on the season, but we needed to get a split and had a chance on Sunday to do that but just couldn’t get it done.”

The Jacks fell to 5-17 on the season. They will square off against Northern Iowa on April 8 in Waterloo, Iowa, before taking on perennial conference favorites Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla., in a four-game series on April 10 to 12.

#1.881683:3706175779.jpg:Baseball_Practice_2.1.jpg:The Jackrabbit baseball team put in game-situation at bats during their March 29 practice.:Ethan Swanson#1.881682:4197490883.jpg:Baseball_practice_1.1.jpg:Senior right-handed pitcher Isaac Johnson pitches during an SDSU practice March 29. The Jacks lost 1-3 in their four-game series against Centenary April 3 to 5. :Ethan Swanson