NDSU sweeps Jackrabbits in four-game set

Lucas Smith

North Dakota State swept South Dakota State in a crucial four game conference series last weekend in Fargo, ND, dropping the Jacks overall record to 12-24-1.

SDSU lost the first three games of the series by one run with each game coming down to the final at-bat. The series opener began on Friday with a pitching duel between Jacks ace Stephen Bougher and Bison front man John Straka, each entering the game with a record of 5-2.

Bougher hurled seven solid innings giving up two runs but the Jacks came up short after the Bison scored a run in the ninth inning for a walk-off 3-2 win.

“Any game you lose by one run is heartbreaking,” Bougher said.

Saturday’s double-header brought more last inning misfortune when the Bison beat the Jacks, 7-6 in the first game and 3-2 in the second giving SDSU three straight losses in walk-off fashion.

“We were just a couple plays away from winning both those games,” said relief pitcher Shane Kraemer.

The Jacks clung to a 6-5 lead heading into the final inning of Saturday’s first game. SDSU donated a throwing error and a wild pitch to help NDSU score two runs for the victory. The second game brought yet another painful loss when the Bison won in extra innings on a bases loaded walk to end the game.

“Those are tough ones to swallow. We consider NDSU a rival and last weekend solidified that,” Kraemer said.

Like a broken record, the Jacks fell short again in the final game after NDSU scored three late runs to cap off the series with a 4-1 win.  On a bright note, Layne Somsen pitched his best game of the year and carried a perfect game into the fifth inning.

With NDSU atop the Summit league standings, it is likely the Jacks will play them again if they make the playoffs.

“I would like nothing more than to get another shot at them,” said Kraemer of the Bison.

If the Jacks want to turn this season around, they better do it in a hurry. SDSU carries a 2-6 Summit league record and that won’t be enough to get them into conference play.

“We definitely can’t lose another series if we want to make the tournament,” Bougher said.

SDSU has a chance to make up some ground in the conference standings with 13 of the remaining 14 games versus Summit league opponents. The Jacks will also have the advantage of playing 10 home games.

“A lot of the guys feel more comfortable playing at home. The team is rested and ready to go and we have a lot of resiliency on this team,” Kraemer said. “We are confident that we can get it going for conference play.”