Jackrabbits rejoin title race

 

 The SDSU baseball team went on the road last weekend and stole three of four games from the Fort Wayne Mastodons to climb back into the chase for the No. 1 seed in the Summit League tournament. 

After starting the conference slate 2-4, the Jacks knew they had to improve and they did just that. 

“Obviously it’s just a number,” head coach David Schrage said. “We already know the four teams that are going to be in there, but I think it’s always nice to be the favorite. We went in last year as the No. 1 seed and we’d like to do it again this year. That was one of our goals.” 

Schrage said that during the weekend series he saw his batting lineup solidify, something that will only strengthen to the Jacks’ starting pitching. 

“We had to go and win the series and the guys responded in a big way,” Schrage said. “We had two big pitching performances from Adam Bray and Taylor Hodges and also Chris Anderson threw well.” 

Bray led off for the series for SDSU with seven shutdown innings, striking out eight and scattering four hits to secure his fifth win of the season against the Mastodons on Friday. 

The Jackrabbit offense scored early and often in his support, scoring 11 runs. Aaron Machbitz had four hits and an RBI while fellow teammate Paul Jacobson got three hits and knocked in two. 

Also driving in two runs was centerfielder Zach Coppola who returned to the lineup after being injured during a collision in Tuesday’s game versus North Dakota. 

“He recovered fine and had a good weekend too,” Schrage said. “He had a diving catch on Saturday.” 

Saturday featured a doubleheader of pitching duals, which the Jackrabbits won 3-2 and 3-0. 

Anderson went the first six innings of game one for the Jacks, giving up two runs, one of them earned. J.D. Moore came on in three innings of relief and earned the win when Jordan Varga singled home Coppola for the game winning run in the top of the ninth inning. 

Hodges answered the bell in game two to collect his third Summit League Pitcher of the week award, pitching the seven inning shutout and striking out six while surrendering just three hits and a pair of walks. 

The Mastodons managed to salvage Sunday’s game, knocking out starter Tyler Shannon after two innings and working eight walks en route to a 12-2 victory. 

Omaha currently leads the league with their 7-3 record. IPFW holds the second place slot at 7-5 and SDSU comes in third at 5-5, but with a four-game home series against UNO, starting on May 2. 

In the meantime, the Jackrabbits will return home for a one-game series against Dakota State on Wednesday at three before travelling to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes for a weekend series. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to play a Big Ten team,” Schrage said. “When we recruit kids to come here, we like to play a good schedule and this is one of the games that we highlight. … Overall they’ve got a really good record. It’ll be a good challenge for us. We’ll see good pitching this weekend and that’ll prepare us for Omaha.”