Jacks hit road to take on struggling Mastodons

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Jacks hit road to take on struggling Mastodons

Carson Herbert, Sports Reporter

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Coming off a series win against the conference favorite, the South Dakota State baseball team now puts their focus at the bottom of the league standings for a weekend series against the struggling Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons.

After a 4-0 start, the Mastodons (4-18, 0-6) have lost 18 consecutive games. The struggles are no surprise to followers of Summit League baseball as the program has spent the last two seasons in the cellar of the conference.

Purdue Fort Wayne is coming off a 26-0 loss March 24 against Omaha, who sits at the top of the standings with a 14-6-1 (6-0) record.

The Mastodon pitching staff has allowed 10-or-more runs in 13 of the team’s 22 games and has a team ERA of 11.13. Opponents are hitting .350 against the team this season.

As far as the lineup goes, redshirt junior utility man Garrett Mohler leads the team in hitting with a .321 batting average while having an OPS (On-base plus slugging) of .930.

South Dakota State (11-10, 4-2) has won six of their last nine and are currently in second place in the league standings.

Three Jackrabbit hitters come into the weekend batting .300 or better. Sophomore Gus Steiger, who is tied for fourth in the Summit League with a .333 batting average and in home runs with four. Steiger as hit safely in 12 of the last 13 games and is hitting .406 during that stretch.

Freshmen third baseman Luke Ira and first baseman Drew Beazley are the other two hitters on that list. So far in league play, Beazley is batting .462 in 13 at-bats with a 1.154 slugging percentage in the six games played.

Pitchers to watch are junior right-hander Tyler Olmstead, who has taken the top spot in the rotation while junior left-hander Brady Stover continues to recover from his injuries. Olmstead leads the team with 34 strikeouts.

Sophomore left-handed reliever Bret Barnett continues to dominate out of the bullpen. He has only allowed one run in 14.1 innings pitched this season.

SDSU head coach Rob Bishop told gojacks.com that the team needs to expect tough competition in every Summit League game.

“We’ve expressed to our guys and we’ll continue to in the next two days … Each conference game has the value of one conference game,” Bishop said. “30 times we have to go out there and get tested. It doesn’t matter what the other team’s uniform looks like, a conference win is a conference win.”

The first game of the series will take place on March 29 at 2 p.m. with the second starting at 2 p.m. on March 30 and the final game starting at 1 p.m. All games will be played at Mastodon field in Fort Wayne, Indiana.