Jackrabbits break from road, prepared for home opener

Kirk Danielson

Kirk Danielson

The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, SDSU baseball is back. The team is off and swinging, coming into the week with a 10-11 record. The Jackrabbits have been playing competitive ball this season, winning at least one game with every opponent this season.

The team had their home opener set for this week, but pushed it back due to unfit field conditions. The home opener is now scheduled for Friday, April 6, when they host the North Dakota State Bison at Bob Sheldon Field.

Head Coach Reggie Christiansen talked about the season so far.

“We’re feeling pretty good at .500 with all our games on the road thus far. The good thing is that we have yet to play our best baseball,” he said.

Last Sunday, the Jackrabbits pulled out a 6-3 come-from-behind victory over Missouri State. Down 3-1, the Jacks scored three runs in the seventh inning to go ahead for good. With the bases loaded, junior Korby Mintken reached on an error, and senior Jake Rogers walked to tie the game. Junior Nick Adams’ ground out brought in the go ahead run, and from there on, it was all SDSU. Senior Cal Lewis’s lead-off triple in the eighth inning paid off when he was hit home by senior Chris Iverson. Nick Adams cemented the victory, scoring on an error in the ninth inning.

Sophomore Isaac Johnson earned his second save of the year, giving up one hit and striking out three in three innings of relief. Starting pitcher, sophomore Caleb Thielbar, earned his second win of the year, striking out three players in six innings of work.

“Missouri State may be the best team on our schedule up to this point. Looking back, the first two games we didn’t play too well, but we bounced back on Sunday and that was probably our biggest win of the year,” Christiansen said.

The 2007 Jackrabbits season started with a bit of a twist this season. Due to uncooperative weather, the team played their season opener against the University of Kansas at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. The surprising location was made available because of a small college tournament taking place at the dome. The SDSU-Kansas games were worked in around the tournament, with red-eye-flight start times of 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. The early games invigorated the Jackrabbits, as they came out swinging their way to a 6-5 season-opening win. SDSU trailed the second game, 3-2, when it was called in the eighth inning due to the time limit of 7 a.m.

The second night of graveyard shift baseball didn’t pan out for the Jacks offensively. The team was held scoreless as they finished the second game and fell to Kansas, 1-4, in the series finale.

“The fact that we got those games in is a reflection of where we are right now. Those games have helped us in the last four or five weekends,” Christiansen said.

The baseball team is ready for spring. This week the team practiced outside in Brookings for the first time. With home games only a few weeks away, the team is ready for a break from the road.

“We’re looking forward to playing at Bob Sheldon again and spending some time at home, ’cause I think that what our players go through in terms of travel is absolutely brutal,” Christiansen said.

This weekend the Jackrabbits travel to Valparaiso, Ind., to battle Chicago State and Valparaiso University. The team then travels to Orem, Utah, for a three-game set with Utah Valley State before settling in for a seven-game home stand against NDSU and Utah Valley State.

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