Jackrabbits split with NDSU in “home opening” doubleheader in Iowa

SDSU drops first game 10-2 before winning second 9-8
Jackrabbits play "home opener" in Council Bluffs, Iowa
Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 12:12 AM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA (Dakota News Now) - Thatcher Kozal hit a tie-breaking three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning in the second game of a Summit League baseball doubleheader Friday afternoon to lift South Dakota State to a 9-8 victory and earn a split against rival North Dakota State at Doc Ross Field.

The Bison won the opener, 10-2. NDSU moved to 6-20 overall and 3-2 in league play, while SDSU ended the day 6-15 overall and 2-3 in The Summit League.

Game 1: North Dakota State 10, SDSU 2

NDSU grabbed the lead with a three-run third inning and added four more runs in the fifth inning to pull away from the Jackrabbits.

The Bison rally in the third inning all came with two outs as Cadyn Schwabe drew a walk, stole second on scored on Terrell Huggins’ single to left center. Peter Brookshaw followed with his ninth home run of the season, a two-run blast off Jackrabbit starter Jake Goble for a 3-1 lead.

Huggins doubled in Kyle Law and Will Busch for the first two runs of the fifth inning and later scored on wild pitch. The final run of the frame scored on a Jackrabbit throwing error as Brookshaw stole third.

Trailing 7-1, SDSU loaded the bases with nobody out against the Bison bullpen in the top of the seventh, but could only come away with one run as Dawson Parry delivered a two-out single that scored Reece Anderson.

The Jackrabbits had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as Ryan McDonald walked, stole second and advanced to third on an error before scoring on a single by Nic Nelson.   From there, NDSU starter Cade Feeney settled into a groove, allowing only three hits and a walk over the next five innings. The right-hander struck out five in picking up his second win of the season.

The Bison added a run in the eighth on an RBI single by Will Busch and added two more runs in the top of the ninth as James Dunlap plated two with a base hit.

NDSU held a 10-7 advantage in hits, with Busch, Dunlap, Huggins and Brookshaw all tallying two hits each. Jess Bellows was 3-for-5 to lead the Jackrabbits at the plate.

Goble suffered his first loss of the season after allowing five runs in four innings. The sophomore from Rapid City finished with a career-high six strikeouts.

Dylan Richey added four strikeouts while allowing one run over three innings of relief for SDSU.

Game 2: SDSU 9, North Dakota State 8

The Jackrabbits struck for five runs in the second inning and recovered late to wind up with a 9-8 victory in the second game of the twinbill.

McDonald provided the big blast in the early going for SDSU with a grand slam off Bison starter Max Loven. McDonald’s third career grand slam came after Bellows was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the first run of the five-run frame.

NDSU quickly responded, cracking the scoring column with a two-run home run by Druw Sackett in the third inning and tying the game with a three-run fourth against three different Jackrabbit pitchers. Dunlap homered to lead off the fourth, while back-to-back doubles by Jack Steil and Davis Hamilton chased SDSU starter Reece Arbogast from the game. The tying run scored on a groundout.

The Jackrabbits regained the lead at 6-5 in the home half of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Dawson Parry that brought home Adam Benes, and the game would remain that way until NDSU tied the game with a run in the top of the eighth. Steil led off the eighth with a base hit, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hamilton and scored on Garret Hill’s single up the middle.

SDSU’s game-winning rally in the eighth inning began when Nic Nelson singled up the middle off Nolan Johnson with one out. Luke Ira greeted the next reliever, Reese Ligtenberg, with a single and both runners moved up a base on an errant pickoff throw. After Cade Stuff struck out for the second out of the inning, Kozal, who previously played on the same field while playing for Iowa Western Community College, lifted a fly ball over the wall in left center field for his first home run of the season and a 9-6 Jackrabbit lead.

NDSU wouldn’t go down without a fight, however, as Stephen Lund hit the third homer of the game for the Bison, a two-run shot off SDSU reliever Ryan Bourassa to make it a one-run game. Bourassa then induced a flyout off the bat of Dunlap to end the game.

Bourassa worked the final 3 2/3 innings to earn the victory. He struck out one and did not walk a batter. Dylan Driessen fanned three batters over 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief.

Hits were even at nine apiece. McDonald was 3-for-4 to lead the Jackrabbits, while Steil collected two hits for NDSU.


The Jackrabbits and Bison are scheduled to play the series finale at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game is slated to be played at Tal Anderson Field on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.


  • SDSU leads the all-time series, 125-79, although each team has won 35 games against the other in Summit League regular season games since joining the league at the start of the 2008 season
  • McDonald hit the Jackrabbits’ second grand slam of the season, joining Nelson (Feb. 17 at Little Rock)
  • McDonald’s grand slam was his 27th career home run, putting him one away from tying Galen Carver (28 homers from 1978-81) for 10th place on the SDSU career charts
  • Arbogast made his first career start in the nightcap
  • Kozal entered in the fifth inning after Drew Beazley was injured earlier in the game
  • The Jackrabbits have scored first in 16 of their 21 games this season