Jackrabbits gear up for pivotal series with Bison


The South Dakota State Jackrabbits lost three of their four games in the past week.

The Jacks traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tuesday to take on the Minnesota Gophers. The Jackrabbits fell 5-2, despite Matt Johnson hitting his eighth home run of the year. The Gophers out-hit the Jackrabbits 10 to 8. 

Friday, the Jacks returned to Brookings for a series with the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, who lead the Summit League.

The Jackrabbits dropped two games of three to the Summit League leaders. 

“Any win against Oral Roberts is like two wins — just to get a win against them was important,” head coach Rob Bishop said. “It’s nothing to hang our head on. We will bounce back.” 

During Friday’s game, the Jacks starting pitcher senior Austin Kost was unable to go past  2.1 innings, and allowed seven earned runs. Freshman Brett Mogen worked 6.2 innings in relief and allowed just one run. 

In that same game, the Jacks out-hit Oral Roberts 13-9, but the lack of timely hits did the Jacks in, as they left 11 baserunners on. 

Senior Ethan Kenkel started for the Jacks Saturday and went five innings with one earned run allowed and another unearned run scored. The Jackrabbits defeated their Summit League foe 5-2. 

Junior pitcher Derek Feige earned the win. Feige pitched three innings of relief for Kenkel, only allowing two hits and came up with two strikeouts. Then, senior Chris Halbur came in and recorded his sixth save of the year. 

Sunday’s game was a home run affair, but the Jackrabbits didn’t seem to receive the memo. Oral Roberts combined for four home runs. The Jacks managed to hit two home runs from junior Tony Kjolsing and senior Matt Johnson. 

“Our real issue is that we have two injured guys and we are a little shorthanded in the bullpen, but hopefully we’ll get those guys (Halbur, Olmstead) back at full strength,” Bishop said. 

Now, the Jackrabbits (16-19, 9-9) sit at fourth place in the Summit League. The upcoming games this week have the potential to drastically impact the standings, as the North Dakota State Bison are tied for second with a 10-8 conference record. 

Initially, the Jackrabbits were also scheduled to take on Dakota State and Creighton, but due to inclement weather those games will no longer take place. No makeup dates have been announced. 

In the last series against the Bison in Fargo, North Dakota, the Bison took two games from the Jackrabbits in the three-game series. 

The biggest margin of defeat in those contests for the Jackrabbits was three, as they lost 4-1 in both defeats. The Jackrabbits victory over the Bison was 1-0. 

“North Dakota State really pitches and plays good defense, “ Bishop said. “We are going to have to get them out of their run scoring comfort zone and score five or six runs.”

Forecasts are predicting the wind will blow in, but Bishop said his squad isn’t worried about it effecting his team’s run production. 

“We are just going to need to manufacture runs and have good at-bats,” Bishop said.