Baseball wins two at Western Illinois

The South Dakota State University baseball team earned its first conference wins of their season as the Jacks went 2-1 in a conference series against the Western Illinois University Leathernecks.

SDSU 8; WIU 5

 n the first game in Macomb, Ill. on Friday March 20, the Jacks trailed the WIU, 2-1 after two innings before holding the Leathernecks scoreless until the sixth inning to emerge with an 8-5 victory. The Jacks scored one run in the second and sixth innings and crossed the plate twice in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings. Offensively, SDSU was led by senior Eric Danforth, who had three hits in three trips to the plate, drove in one run and crossed the plate to score twice. Senior Al Robbins went two for five with one run batted in (RBI) and scored once, while freshman Luke Ringhofer had three hits in four at bats and one RBI. Taking the pitching win for the Jacks was senior Adam Bray. Bray moves to 2-2 on the season as he completed six innings giving up five runs on eight hits and struck out four batters.

 “I feel that my recognition of pitches has improved a lot since I’ve been here (at SDSU). Also, I feel I’m not trying to force anything which helps with being relaxed and confident in my at bats,” Ringhofer said about the success that he has had offensively as a freshman.

SDSU 1; WIU 2 (14 innings)

 n the Saturday afternoon game, SDSU found themselves locked in a tight one as they fell 2-1 to WIU in a 14-inning match-up. The Jacks scored first in the second inning, as senior Reid Clary crossed the plate. The Leathernecks tied the game in the sixth before the Jackrabbits threatened to score the winning run in the top of the 11th inning before giving up the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 14th. Senior J.D. Moore suffered the loss for the Jacks from the pitchers mound, falling to 0-1 on the season. Moore faced three batters giving up one run on two hits and one walk. Moore also struck out one batter.

 “Our biggest thing right now is we’ve been able to manufacture some runs, you know we scored 18 runs, it’s in those close games that we have got to step up and get the clutch hit. I think that will come as the season goes on,” said Head Coach Dave Schrage.

SDSU 9; WIU 7

 he Jackrabbits took the series finale by a score of 9-7 on Sunday afternoon. SDSU fell behind 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning before evening the score in the top of the third inning on RBIs by Ringhofer and junior Zach Coppola. The Leathernecks scored three more runs in the bottom of the third inning, moving the score to 6-3. The Jacks scored a run in each of their next three innings to tie the game at 6-6 after six innings. SDSU scored twice in the seventh to take a 8-6 lead. WIU scored once in the bottom of the eighth inning to come within one run of the Jacks going into the final inning. The Jackrabbits scored an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Robbins crossed the plate on a sacrifice bunt by Coppola. Senior Blake Fiedelman earned the victory from the hill as he completed two and one-thirds innings and allowed one run on one hit and one walk. Fiedelman, who improved to 1-0 on the season, struck two batters out. Jacobsen led the Jacks offensively going three for five at the plate and drove in three runs.

 “It was an important victory for us after we started the way we did in the conference. It was important that we battle back and win a series especially doing it on the road so I was really proud of how resilient our guys were this weekend,” Schrage said. “They were behind and had to battle numerous times and they answered the call and I was really pleased with our character… this weekend.”

 enior Talon Jumper was named this week’s Summit League Pitcher of the Week. Jumper was credited for saves in both of the Jackrabbit victories over the weekend and completed a total of four scoreless innings in the series. Jumper struck out four Leatherneck batters and did not allow any walks, improving his Earned Runs Average to 0.73.

 “I just had to focus on executing my pitches, and to pitch to contact. With how hard our defense plays behind me, it allows me to work fast and not worry about having the ball be put in play,” Jumper said. “Our defense played great all weekend, which helped me have success.”

 he SDSU baseball team, which holds a mark of 9-11 overall and 2-4 in the Summit League, will return to action on Friday, March 27 as they face Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne in conference play at 2 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind. 

 “Last year we played them [IUPUI] seven times I think we won five out of the seven,” Schrage said. “We’ve been able to slow them a little bit offensively with our pitching and score some runs against them. Their weakness is they haven’t pitched it as well as I’m sure they would have liked to have. We have got to keep our offense rolling this weekend and have our pitchers just shut them down a little bit.”