Jacks steal home opener

Robert Myers Sports Editor


 After the cancellation of Friday’s doubleheader due to weather, Jackrabbit baseball opened their first home stand of the year, splitting Sunday’s doubleheader with the Fort Wayne Mastodons. 

In game one, head coach Dave Schrage handed the ball to Adam Bray who is SDSU’s top starter this year. After a clean first inning, Bray found himself in a jam in the second when an error by Paul Jacobson allowed Shane Trevino to reach second. Bray then loaded the bases with one out but managed to strike out Evan VanSumeren before Lucas Salerno lined out to first to end the inning. 

The Mastodons finally got to Bray in the third with a pair of two-out doubles from Carter DeBoe and Shane Trevino to take the 1-0 lead. They nearly added two more later in the inning when Greg Kaiser lined one foul down the left field line, but Bray instead struck him out on the next pitch. 

The Jackrabbits answered in the bottom of the inning when Aaron Machbitz singled home. Tyler Shannon who led off the inning with a walk. They stole another run in the fourth when Kaiser dropped a high popup to allow Reid Clary to score from second. 

Bray went on to shut down IPFW in the fifth and sixth before being replaced by J.D. Moore to start the seventh inning. With one out in the inning, the Mastodons managed to get Brandon Soat to first after Scott Splett’s throw pulled Machbitz off the bag, but Moore was able to get the next two batters to close out the 2-1 SDSU victory. 

The Jacks won the game despite getting only three hits, and uncharacteristically making a pair of fielding errors. Bray went six innings, giving up seven hits and striking out 11. 

“Oh man, I didn’t even know I had 11 strikeouts,” Bray said. “But I knew I had to attack to zone on these guys. They’re coming off a couple of huge wins against UNO [University of Nebraska-Omaha], so I knew I had to keep them off balance and my off-speed was working so that’s what I did.” 

Chris Anderson started game two for the Jacks and promptly gave up a leadoff double to Malcolm White. DeBoe’s single then scored him to give IPFW the early lead. 

The Mastodons pushed across another run in the third when Trevino drove in White on a grounder to second base. Kristian Gayday then tacked on another, driving in DeBoe with a sharp single to center, putting IPFW up 3-0. 

Kaiser continued the third inning damage with a double, driving in Gayday from second and advancing Kevin Wirth to third. A diving catch in deep centerfield by Zach Coppola ended the damage after eight men had stepped to the plate. 

The first Jackrabbit hit came in the fourth, a leadoff double by Jake Ratz. A single by Al Robbins put Jackrabbits on first and third with one out, and Eric Danforth knocked in Ratz with a two out single. Schrage then used some trickery and ran a double-steal to bring home Robbins.

“Actually we were just trying to manufacture some runs,” Schrage said about the double-steal. “It’s worked for us. Actually, we missed a sign on that one. That wasn’t exactly what was supposed happen. Even though that worked on the double-steal, it wasn’t supposed to be.“

IFPW answered in the fifth, scoring Trevino on a Wirth double. That proved the end of Anderson’s day as he was replaced by Joe Erickson out of the pen. They added another run in the sixth when White drove in VanSumeren to put the Mastodons up 6-2.

“That’s to their credit,” Schrage said about IPFW’s ability to respond when the Jacks scored. “They stepped up and got the runs when they needed to.”

The Jackrabbits had a threat going in the bottom half of the inning, but a Tyler Shannon double play, while scoring Machbitz, emptied the bases with two outs. Even so, back to back hits from Danforth and Clary tacked up another run. They later load the bases for Jordan Varga, but he struck out to end the inning.

“It was huge when we had the bases load there and swang at a ball that bounced in,” Schrage said. “That was huge. We’ve done that continuously all season.”

IPFW gained insurance runs in the eight after a wild pitch and a deep sacrifice fly. The Jacks got one of them back in the bottom half, but Wirth gunned down Dansforth at the plate to end the inning.

Gayday scored in the ninth off of an error, but the run proved to be meaningless as Connor Lawhead was able to come in and get the save, despite Kevin Kimball surrendering a pair of walks to start the inning. 

“The second game, we didn’t play a very good baseball came. That’s the bottom line,” Schrage said. “We’ve played pretty well all year defensively, but we didn’t make any of the routine plays out in the infield. That’s what hurt. … We gave up four unearned runs. You take that off the board and it’s a tie ballgame.”

On April 8, the Jacks defeated Mount Marty 16-3 in a seven innings at Erv Huether Field.