Jacks baseball grabs sole possession of second in conference

The South Dakota State baseball squad claimed sole position of second place in the Summit League standings after breaking a two-way with Omaha by taking two of three from the Mavericks over the weekend. The Jacks also won a non-conference game against Dakota State University on Wednesday, April 15.

SDSU 5; DSU 1

The Jackrabbits continued their winning ways by taking a mid-week game against the Trojans by a score of 5-1.

Dakota State scored its lone run in the top of the first inning before the Jacks answered back by scoring in each of their first three trips to the plate.

Junior Paul Jacobson led of the first inning with a double before scoring later on a groundout by freshman Luke Ringhofer. Senior Al Robbins drove in sophomore Matt Johnson in the second inning.

SDSU finished its scoring in the bottom of the third as a triple by Ringhofer scored Jacobson and junior Zach Coppola. Ringhofer later crossed the plate on an RBI from freshman Tony Kjolsing.

Ringhofer went 1-for-4 in the game with three RBI, while Robbins went 2-for-3 and plated one run. Sophomore Ethan Kenkel moved to 2-1 on the season as he earned the pitching win for the Jacks. Kenkel completed three innings, allowing one run on three hits, two walks and one strikeout.

SDSU 5; Omaha 1

In the first game of the tie-breaking series against Omaha on Friday afternoon, the Jacks took a 5-1 victory. SDSU scored the first two runs of the game in the home half of the first inning as Ringhofer blasted a two run home run that scored Jacobson.

Omaha earned one of those runs back in the top of the second inning before the Jackrabbits added another run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Junior Cody Sharrow reached base on an error by the Omaha shortstop and advanced to second on the error. Senior Eric Danforth moved Sharrow to third on bunt single before Coppola grounded out to second baseman to push Sharrow across the plate.

SDSU took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning when they added the last two runs of the game. Jacobson and Coppola both walked to start of the SDSU seventh. The duo executed a double steal to move Jacobson to third base and put Coppola on second before Ringhofer made his presence be felt again by scoring Jacobson with a single to right field.

Coppola later scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Reid Clary. Ringhofer was 2-for-4 in the game with three RBI. Clary chipped in one more RBI on a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. Senior Adam Bray worked eight full innings giving up one run on six hits, one walk and six strikeouts to earn the win from the pitchers’ mound for the Jacks, and also earned the Summit League Pitcher of the Week title for the second week in a row.

“Baseball is a game of ups and downs and I believe this weekend I just had confidence in the box and my swing was feeling good,” said Clary, the Summit League’s Player of the Week. “Also before each game I went and got some extra work in which helped smooth out my swing.”

SDSU 6; Omaha 8

The Mavericks used a six-run fourth inning to take game two of the series by a score of 8-6 on Saturday afternoon. The Jacks scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning as Jacobson tripled to left before crossing the plate on a ground ball hit by Coppola. Omaha tied the game in the top of the third inning. The Mavericks cranked out six runs in the fourth inning to take a 7-1 lead into the fifth inning. Danforth was the first of three runners to score in the SDSU fifth. Danforth walked before moving to second on a single by Jacobson. Danforth advanced to third on a throwing error by the Omaha first baseman after Coppola reached on a fielders’ choice and scored on a throwing error by the Omaha shortstop on the same play. Coppola stole third before scoring on a ground ball hit to and misplayed by the shortstop off the bat of Clary. Ringhofer, who walked in the at bat before Clary’s, scored from second base on a single by Johnson. Coppola scored on a sacrifice fly out by Clary in the bottom of the seventh to push the score to 7-5 after seven innings. Omaha added a run in the top of the ninth to go up 8-5 going into the last half inning. SDSU almost mounted a comeback as they scored once in their half of the ninth inning on a homer by Clary. Clary led the Jacks offensively with a 3-for-4 performance with two RBI. Senior Chris Anderson suffered the loss from the hill for SDSU after giving up six runs on six hits, three walks and two strikeouts over three innings.

“I think we all were still pretty confident that we could win the third game because Saturday’s game just got away from us a little but we battled back to keep it close. Going into Sunday, we knew we had to come out with a win so that’s what we set out to do,” Clary said.

SDSU 12; Omaha 2

The Jackrabbits piled on nine runs in the first two innings of the rubber match against Omaha Sunday afternoon to take sole possession of second place in the Summit League with a 12-2 win.

Jacobson scored the first run of the game on a single from Clary after reaching base on a fielding error by the Omaha third baseman. Johnson homered to right field to score Ringhofer and Clary. Freshman Newt Johnson reached base after being hit by a pitch, then advanced to third on a single by Sharrow that left runners on first and third base. Sharrow stole second allowing Newt Johnson to steal home to conclude SDSU’s scoring in the first inning.

The Jackrabbits added four more in the bottom of the second inning. Coppola was the first to cross the plate after walking, moving to second on a balk, stealing third and scoring on a RBI double from Clary. Matt Johnson doubled in the next at bat to score Clary from second and Ringhofer from third. Johnson scored on a single by Newt Johnson.

Omaha scored its only two runs in the top of the sixth inning. SDSU ended the game early after scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh to take the 12-2 victory.

Danforth and Robbins both scored on a single to center field by Coppola, who would move all the way around the bases to score on the play as the Omaha center fielder committed a fielding error. Matt Johnson was 3-for-4 on the day with five RBI, and Clary and Coppola each added two RBI on 3-for-4 and 1-for-4 efforts, respectively. Sophomore Ryan Froom worked all seven innings allowing two runs on eight hits, no walks and four strikeouts. 

“At this point in the season it was a big series win for us to move into second place it was big,” said Head Coach Dave Schrage. “That’s why I like the three-game series; you had a winner and a loser this weekend. Based on where we were at, we were tied going into this weekend and we knew whoever was going to win the series was going to end up in second place.”

Looking Forward

The Jacks, who hold a 24-14 overall mark and an 11-7 record in Summit League action, travel to Minneapolis to play the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers on Wednesday, April 22 at 4 p.m. SDSU will spend the weekend in Tulsa, Okla. to square off with the Summit League-best, Oral Roberts University, in a three game series. 

“I thought when we competed with them up here that we took good swings at their fastballs. They’re power pitchers, every guy they throw out there is throwing in the 90s and we have got to hit the fastball. We can’t take a lot of pitches, we have got to be aggressive and hit the fastball. When we did that in the games here I thought we were successful,” Schrage said. “The other thing is we have got to shut their bats down. They have got as good of a lineup that there is in the conference. They have got power and speed both.”