Baseball team breaks out hot bats in Texas

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

The Jackrabbit baseball team was just 1-5 heading into the Ford Bearkat Classic on March 7, but they left Texas on the March 9 with a 4-6 record.

The Jacks won a slug fest against Texas-Pan American, split with Sam Houston State and then destroyed St. Louis.

“Winning three out of four in the state of Texas against teams that have practiced outside is quite an accomplishment for our players,” head coach Reggie Christiansen said.

In the game against Texas-Pan American, the Jacks had a four-run first, only to see the Broncs put up three in their half of the inning. The Jacks responded with three more runs in the second. The Jacks would go up 10-4 after their half of the sixth inning, only to see the Broncs cut the lead in half with a three run sixth. Freshman centerfielder Billy Stitz would drive in an insurance run-his third run batted in of the day-in the eighth to make the score 11-7. UTPA made things interesting with three runs scored in the ninth and bases loaded with only one out. Junior Kirby Morsching relieved senior Matt Baerlocher on the mound, Morsching induced two ground outs to get out of the inning and earn the save. SDSU won the game 11-10.

In the first game against SHSU, the Bearkats took advantage of four Jackrabbit errors en route to a 9-3 win. The Bearkats never trailed, as they scored three runs in the first two innings, and then hung a three spot in the fourth to provide some much needed breathing room. Seniors Tyson Fisher and Korby Mintken each had two hits as did freshman Erik DeJong.

In the second game against the Bearkats, the Jacks got all the run support they needed in the first inning by a two-run single by senior Nick Adams, and Mintken was a double away from hitting for the cycle. Junior Caleb Thielbar pitched a gem, giving up one run in eight innings while scattering nine hits and striking out four.

“Caleb had his roughest outing of his college career on Wednesday at Arkansas,” Christiansen said. “I was really proud of the way he responded and pitched extremely well against a very good Sam Houston State team that earlier in the week had scored 12 runs and beat #6 ranked Rice.”

In the finale against St. Louis, the Jacks recorded season highs in hits and runs scored in a 20-4 sound defeat. With SLU up 3-2 in the top of the fourth, the Jacks exploded for four runs and never trailed again. Adams, senior Tim Hanigan and redshirt freshman Max Fenske all recorded RBI’s in the inning, with Hanigan stealing home on a double steal. The Jacks blew it wide open with an 11-run eighth inning. The Jacks sent 15 batters to the plate in the inning; Stitz and Fisher provided the big hits of the inning with Stitz hitting a two-run homer and Fisher adding a three-run blast.

“I think a lot of our players remembered a few years ago how badly St. Louis pounded us at their place,” Christiansen said. “They pitched their best guy at us, and I was very pleased at how we continued to put together quality at bats up and down our order. We have the makings of a very good lineup.”

The Jacks visit Nebraska on Tuesday and then travel to Air Force for a three-game weekend set.

SDSU will play against the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux on April 1, the Jacks will showcase the new Erv Huether Field on campus.