SDSU powers past Minnesota for home win


After defeating NAIA Mount Marty by a score of 3-1 on Tuesday, SDSU head baseball coach Dave Schrage said that three runs would not be enough to defeat Minnesota, who would be the Jackrabbits next opponent on Wednesday.

He had his proof. The Gophers throttled SDSU with the bats for a season-high 16 hits in a 9-3 win at the Metrodome 14 days ago.

The coach doesn’t mind being wrong, though.

For the second consecutive day and this time against a considerably better opponent, the Jackrabbits rode stellar defense and a very good pitching performance to beat Minnesota, 3-1, in front of 258 fans at Erv Huether Field Wednesday.

“It was probably overall, the best game we’ve played. I thought we made some great plays defensively and on a Wednesday, to get that kind of pitching performance from five or six guys says a lot about where our staff is at,” Schrage said.

First baseman Aaron Machbitz drilled the eventual game-winning two-run home run to center field in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie. Machbitz, the big Texan manning the cleanup spot for the Jacks, said he felt like he was due to go deep once again for his second homer of the season.

“Since the very beginning of the season, I’ve felt like I’ve had chances. I haven’t hit many and I guess I just got a pitch to hit,” Machbitz said.

The Jackrabbits didn’t strike the hit column until the fourth inning and the man to do it, Phil Paquette, would come around to score when Zach Rhodes put SDSU out in front, 1-0, with a single to right field. Minnesota would answer in the top of the next frame when David Bettenburg led off the inning with a walk and came around to score two batters later with a groundout from Andy Henkemeyer to even the score at 1-1 at the game’s halfway point.

The Jacks (10-17-1) had six pitchers team up to hold the Golden Gophers (17-17) to five hits. With it being a midweek game and both teams trying to conserve energy for their more important conference series this weekend, the pitching changes were frequent, with 11 pitchers being used in all.

Shane Kraemer and Nick Young each pitched two innings after Layne Somsen’s scoreless first inning, in which Somsen had three strikeouts. Blake Fiedelman’s spotless sixth inning earned him his first win as a Jackrabbit and after two innings from Marcus Heemstra, Deon Entringer notched his first save of the 2012 campaign with three fly ball outs in the ninth inning, keeping SDSU’s home record against Minnesota perfect since moving to Division I.

The Jackrabbits saw catcher Zach Briggs throw out a pair of runners on the bases from his perch behind home plate, including one on a throw down to second base to catch Ryan Abrahamson off second base to end the Minnesota fifth. SDSU had exemplary defense from Andrew Phelan — filling in at second base for the injured Andrew Melton — when he started a spectacular double play with only his glove for the flip to Eric Cain at the bag and on to Machbitz at first. The end of eighth and the beginning of the ninth inning for Minnesota were both marked by terrific diving catches by Rhodes and Eric Danforth in right and left field, respectively.

“It was a good team win. We had fantastic defense and good pitching and it’s good for the team to have everyone come together for the win,” Machbitz said.

For a team that has been trying to turn its season around for a few weeks now, a win against a Big Ten team like Minnesota could be the turning point for the Jackrabbits. They sure hope so.

“It’s always fun when we get a chance against a team like Minnesota,” Briggs said. “We’re always going to be a little bit more geared up for a game like this and to get a chance to compete with one of the powerhouses in the Big Ten amps us up and we brought our A-game today.”

“I think this is the kind of game that can catapult you. To know you can play with a team like this and we [the coaches] have been telling them that. Hopefully, this will get us going in the right direction,” Schrage said.