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Jacks complete first series sweep in Summit League play

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Jacks complete first series sweep in Summit League play

ABBY FULLENKAMP

ABBY FULLENKAMP

ABBY FULLENKAMP

ABBY FULLENKAMP

Trenton Abrego

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The South Dakota State baseball team swept Fort Wayne over the weekend and moved up in the Summit League standings.

In what was initially scheduled as a home game in Brookings, the Jacks (7-20, 5-5) were forced to travel to Joplin, Missouri.

Against the Mastodons in Joplin, the Jacks were able to do something they haven’t done all year — fire on all cylinders.

On defense, SDSU didn’t commit an error and outscored Fort Wayne 30-11 during the three games.

Senior outfielder Phil Velez won Summit League Player of the Week after going 6-7 against the Mastodon pitching staff and hitting a walk-off grand slam in the series finale.

“Prior to this weekend, we had guys who had good weekends but nobody who had great weekends,” head coach Rob Bishop said. “We had four or five guys have outstanding weekends.”

It has been a common trend for the Jacks to not play in their home stadium, Erv Huether Field. The Jacks were scheduled to take on the North Dakota State Bison April 12 (13-14, 6-5) in Brookings, but because of inclement weather, the series will be moved to Sioux Falls.

It’ll mark the 10th consecutive weekend that the Jacks will be on the road — something that’s starting to take a toll on the team.

“Whether it’s college sports or professional sports, it’s hard,” head coach Rob Bishop said. “It’s hard being on the road … we just need to keep on focusing and not use that as an excuse.”

NDSU sits third in the Summit League, while the Jacks sit fourth. The standings are jam-packed, while the top team, Oral Roberts, is separated by just a few conference wins.

“We are a good weekend from being in first place and a bad weekend from being in last,” Bishop said. “There’s a lot of parity in our league, everyone in our league can beat every other team, you really have to show up and play good baseball.”

The pitching staff for the Bison features a strong 1-2 punch of seniors Blake Stockert and Riley Johnson. Stockert is coming off earning Summit League Pitcher of the Week After throwing a three-hit complete game and striking out six Omaha batters.

Johnson has put together a solid 2018 season with 50 innings pitched, amassing 34 strikeouts and owning a 4.11 earned run average. Johnson has thrown two full games.

For the Jacks to defeat the Bison, they’ll need to get hits against their ace pitchers early and often, and not allow them to get in a groove.

The Jacks and Bison will play a double-header April 12 with the first game starting at 11 a.m. The final game of the series will be played April 13 and will start at 9:30 a.m.

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Jacks complete first series sweep in Summit League play