Baseball team hopes to get back on track vs. Western Illinois

Brayden Byers, Sports Reporter

Mother Nature has stuck again, causing more shake ups for the Jackrabbit baseball team.

South Dakota State was set to match up with Minnesota in Minneapolis at Siebert Field Wednesday, April 5. That game has been postponed to May 16.

The two teams had already faced off once inside U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, March 8. SDSU took a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning before Minnesota battled back scoring two in the seventh and one in the eighth.

The Jackrabbits’ weekend series against Western Illinois is still on as scheduled. SDSU will travel to Illinois after dropping two of three against NDSU in a de facto home series taking place in both Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska.

The 3-20 Fighting Leathernecks midweek matchup is still scheduled as they will be taking on Illinois State Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Macomb. Both Western Illinois and SDSU will be looking to get the season back on track as they get deeper into the Summit League season.

“Really big weekend,” coach Rob Bishop said. “You’re at, not quite, the halfway point, but after nine games, you really start to see how the league is shaping up.”

The Leathernecks offense is led by outfielder Nick Mitchell who is batting .435 with 10 doubles and 18 RBI’s. He is also five for six on stolen bases to go along with his .490 on base percentage.

Ryan McDonald leads the way for the 6-16 Jackrabbits with a .390 average. He only totals six doubles but makes up for it with a team best 10 home runs. Getting on base 53% of the time, he is 8/9 on the base paths.

One question surrounding the Jacks lineup is going to be senior infielder Drew Beazley, who exited the second game of the series against NDSU on Saturday with an injury.

SDSU is sitting with a 2-4 conference mark after their series with North Dakota State this past weekend. They split the double-header Saturday in Council Bluffs at Doc Ross Field.

The Bison jumped out to a 7-1 lead through five innings in the first game. They added one more in the eighth and two more in the ninth, beating the Jacks 10-2.

In the nightcap, Thatcher Kozal, a senior outfielder, hit a three-run home run to break the 6-6 tie. NDSU would gain two more in the top of the ninth, but Ryan Bourassa would lift SDSU to a 9-8 victory.

Kozal came off the bench in a tough spot for the previously mentioned Beazley. Bishop thought it was great to see him step up to the challenge after sitting for four innings.

“(Thatcher) was really good at that last year, really good in that role,” Bishop said. “He hasn’t quite had his footing this year, and so it was great to see him. We see it in practice, but it was great to see him jump out and get a big hit.”

The series finale Saturday took place at Tal Anderson Field in Omaha with Jack Kruger getting the nod for the Yellow and Blue. It was tightly contested through four innings with the Bison leading 4-3 before NDSU took a 5-3 lead in the fifth. The Jacks would score one more but would fall 5-4 unable to complete the comeback.

“Obviously we would have rather had a different outcome of game three, but I thought we played well, and I thought they just beat us on that last day,” Bishop said.

This is the second conference series for South Dakota State this year. They lost both games 2-1.

The Jacks are sitting at fourth in the early conference season. Oral Roberts is leading the way with a 20-9 overall record. The Golden Eagles are currently unbeaten in the Summit League at 6-0.

The games this weekend will be played Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. All games can be seen on the Western Illinois livestream on