FARGO, N.D. - The South Dakota State University baseball team received strong starts from Nic McCay and Ryan Froom to finish the regular season on a high note Friday by sweeping a Summit League doubleheader from rival North Dakota State at Newman Outdoor Field. The Jackrabbits held on for a 2-1 victory in the opener before cruising to an 8-1 win in Game 2.
SDSU ended the regular season with a 27-20 overall record and a second-place mark of 19-10 in league play. The Bison fell to 19-24 overall and 15-15 in The Summit League. NDSU will need Western Illinois to lose Saturday at Purdue Fort Wayne in order to be the fourth and final qualifier for next week's Summit League Baseball Championship.
Game 1: South Dakota State 2, North Dakota State 1
The Jackrabbits capitalized on three NDSU errors in the first three innings to score a pair of unearned runs, but it proved to be enough offense for SDSU in the one-run victory.
Nick Smith reached on an error to open the game and scored on the Bison's second error of the opening inning when Josh Falk's fly ball to center field with two outs was dropped.
SDSU failed to properly execute a squeeze bunt in the top of the third, but still managed to score what proved to be the decisive run of the game on the play. With the bases loaded and one out, Logan Holtz's bunt attempt was popped up and caught in foul territory by the NDSU first baseman. However, the throw back to third base to try to double up Smith was offline, allowing Smith to scamper home for a 2-0 Jackrabbit lead.
NDSU scored its lone run in the fifth inning as McCay struggled a bit with his control. The freshman right-hander issued walks to Sean Noel and Charley Hesse around a one-out single by Tucker Rohde to load the bases. Jake Malec lofted a sacrifice fly to left field that was deep enough to score Noel, but McCay prevented further damage in completing six solid innings in which he struck out seven, walked four and surrendered only two hits.
Brett Mogen recorded the first two outs of the NDSU seventh inning before closer Bret Barnett came on to record the final seven outs for his seventh save of the season. The left-handed Barnett struck out four and walked one while not allowing a hit.
The Jackrabbits finished with a 9-3 advantage in hits, but left 10 men on base as they couldn't come up with a key hit to extend their lead. Gus Steiger was 3-for-5, while Derek Hackman added a pair of hits for SDSU.
Game 2: South Dakota State 8, North Dakota State 1
The Jackrabbit offense came alive in the nightcap, putting together four separate two-run innings and racking up 14 hits.
SDSU again jumped out to an early lead as Ryan McDonald and Luke Ira delivered back-to-back two-out, run-scoring singles in the top of the first inning.
Clutch two-out hits by Matthew Krambeck and Braeden Brown in the third inning pushed the Jackrabbit lead to 4-0. Krambeck added his second run-scoring single of the game in the fifth inning, while another run scored later in the frame on a groundout as SDSU upped its lead to 6-0.
Froom, who moved into a tie with Timm Gronseth (1985-88) for 10th place in program history with his 18th career victory, held the Bison off the board until allowing an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The senior right-hander struck out four, walked two and scattered four hits over six innings as he improved to 6-4 on the season.
Brady Moxham, Austin Suhr and Drew Beazley each struck out two batters in finishing up with a scoreless inning of relief apiece.
Beazley, who began the game as the designated hitter, capped the scoring with a two-run single in the top of the ninth.
Steiger was again 3-for-5 with McDonald going 3-for-3 with a walk to lead SDSU's 14-hit attack. Smith and Krambeck each finished with two hits.
Bennett Hostetler tallied two of NDSU's five hits.
The second-seeded Jackrabbits will meet host and third-seeded Oral Roberts in the opening round of the Summit League Baseball Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The time for Wednesday's game at J.L. Johnson Stadium will be announced later.
• SDSU leads the all-time series, 121-71, and won the season series, 4-2
• The Jackrabbits won eight Summit League series, lost one and split one in 2019
• SDSU's 19 Summit League victories are tied with the 2010 squad for the second most in a season by a Jackrabbit team since joining the league in 2008
• Barnett lowered his season earned run average to 1.44 and upped his strikeout total to 42 in 31 1/3 innings
• Barnett's seven saves are tied with Kirby Morsching (2008) for the eighth most in a season by a Jackrabbit pitcher
• Steiger was 7-for-14 in the three-game series and recorded his team-best 21st and 22nd multi-hit games of the season on Friday
• Smith walked three times in the doubleheader to move into fourth place on the SDSU single-single list with 42 bases on balls and a tie for fourth with Zach Briggs (2009-12) on the career walks chart with 107
• Smith extended his hitting streak to 10 games
• McCay's six wins are the most by a Jackrabbit freshman pitcher since Kolton Emery won seven games in 2011
• McCay's 81 strikeouts in 2019 rank ninth in program history for a single season
• Froom tied Stephen Bougher (2010-13) for second place on the SDSU all-time charts by making his 48th career start
• Neither team recorded an extra-base hit in either game of the doubleheader