Jackrabbit baseball sweeps Mastodons in Indiana

 Jacks move up in Summit Leauge standings, prepare for home opener

The South Dakota State University baseball team used a three game sweep of the Indiana Purdue – Fort Wayne Mastodons to pull their Summit League Conference record above the .500 mark over the past weekend in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Jacks entered the weekend with an overall record of 9-11 and 2-4 in Summit League play. The victories moved the Jacks to 12-11 overall and 5-4 in the Summit League.

“I was really excited how resilient our kids were. Anytime you can get a sweep on the road, I don’t care where you play it, it’s tough to win so it’s a nice accomplishment for our guys. I was really pleased,” SDSU Head Coach Dave Schrage said. “We’ve played our first nine conference games on the road and came out of that 5-4. I like the fight that our guys showed and that was a nice sweep for us.”

SDSU 8; IPFW 2

In the first game, which was played Friday March 27, SDSU pulled off an 8-2 win. The Jackrabbits scored half of their runs in the first two innings as they scored one run in the first inning and stretched the lead to 4-0 in the top of the second inning. Junior Paul Jacobson doubled in the first at bat of the game and later scored on a run batted in (RBI) ground out by freshman Luke Ringhofer. Senior Al Robbins was the first runner to score in the second inning as he crossed the plate after senior Eric Danforth reached on a fielder’s choice to the second baseman. The next run came across the plate as junior Cody Sharrow scored on a wild pitch. Before the Mastodons could retire the side, Danforth scored on an RBI bunt by junior Zach Coppola.

The Jacks and the Mastodons each scored one run in the fifth and sixth innings to move the score to 6-2. SDSU tacked on insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings to seal the 8-2 triumph. Senior Adam Bray earned the pitching win for the Jacks and moved to 3-2 on the season. Bray completed seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out three batters. Coppola went three for four from the plate and had two RBIs to lead the Jacks offensively. Senior Reid Clary added two additional RBIs after having two hits in three at bats.

“I believe there is always room for improvement, but I feel as if we are all starting to work out the kinks in our swings and getting more consistent at the dish,” Clary said.

SDSU 12; IPFW 6

Ringhofer plated Coppola in the first inning of the Saturday afternoon game before the Mastodons scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-2 lead after two innings.

After holding the Jacks scoreless in the top of the third, IPFW stretched the lead to 5-2 with a two-run third inning. The Jackrabbits fought their way back by scoring five runs in the top of the fourth inning. Sharrow started the scoring in the SDSU fourth with a two-run double that plated freshman Newt Johnson and Clary before Jacobson doubled down the left field line to score Sharrow and Robbins. Jacobson stole third and then scored on a throwing error to put the Jacks up 7-5 after the top of the fourth inning.

SDSU held IPFW scoreless for the next four innings while tacking on two runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings and one in the eighth to take a 12-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Mastodons earned one run back in the bottom of the eighth as they fell to the Jacks by a score of 12-6.

Senior Chris Anderson was credited  with the win for the Jacks after throwing six innings giving up five runs on 10 hits and one walk. Anderson struck out five hitters. 

Sharrow went two for four and had three RBIs offensively for the Jacks. Clary also had three RBIs and went one for four from the plate.

“Our offense was a big part of our success (this weekend). We hit the ball well and better yet we got hits when we had runners in scoring position. And then we added on when we had opportunities.” Sharrow said.

SDSU 8; IPFW 7

The Jacks used a five-run top of the ninth inning to top IPFW, 8-7, in the Sunday game.

Sharrow scored on a wild pitch in the second inning before the Mastodons matched that run in their half of the second. Sharrow crossed the plate to score another run in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning.

IPFW scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to go up 5-2 before SDSU tacked one run on in the top of the seventh inning. Junior Zach Holt started the scoring for SDSU in the top of the ninth as he crossed the plate on a balk, before Jacobson scored on a ground out to the pitcher by Ringhofer. The next run was scored as Coppola crossed the plate after a throwing error by Mastodon’s third baseman. Clary and sophomore Matt Johnson both scored to round out the five-run ninth inning on a two-run single by Robbins.

The Jacks held an 8-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning. IPFW used a two-run homer to close the gap to 8-7, as SDSU held on to be victorious. Senior J.D. Moore received the pitching win as he pitched two innings allowing two runs on three hits and striking out two batters. Ringhofer and Robbins each had two RBIs to lead the Jackrabbits offensively.

“We were down 5-3 in the ninth with a chance to sweep and scored five runs. We got a little help from them but we also put some pressure on them too. It was good to win one on the road, a one-run victory. Hopefully in close games, we’ll come out on the top end more often than we don’t,’” Schrage said.

The Jacks are set to return to action with their home opener Wednesday, April 1 as they play a doubleheader against the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers at Erv Huether Field at 2 p.m. before hosting Oral Roberts University in a Summit League series over the weekend.  

“We’re just excited to play at home,” Scharge said. “When you play 23 straight road games it feels good to be back in your home park, in front of your fans, on your field. … A lot of familiarity, you know, sleeping in your own bed, I mean, it makes a big difference. We have a big number of games; I think 15 home games in April. I told our kids today, ‘You set yourselves up with winning games on the road, now we have got to take care of business at home.’”