The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) baseball team overcame a 3-0 deficit highlighted by a two-run home run from Reed Hjelle (Sr., East Grand Forks) to secure a 5-3 win over #5 St. Cloud State in an NSIC game played at the UMC Baseball Field.
St. Cloud State used a two-out rally to take the lead in the top of the second inning. A two-out double down the left field line extended the inning before a walk put runners on first and second base. A balk moved both runners into scoring position before a single into center field allowed two Huskies to score as SCSU took a 2-0 lead after two innings. St. Cloud State led off the third inning with a single before a walk put runners on first and second base. The Huskies executed a double-steal that allowed the lead runner to turn form third and score while the other runner ran between first and second base in a run-down, but not before the run scored at St. Cloud State took a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Reed Hjelle singled to start a rally before Brock Reller (Soph., Grand Forks, ND) tripled to right field plating Hjelle from first base and trimming UMC’s deficit down to 3-1. Ben Thoma (Soph., Clearbrook) singled through the left side of the infield to score Reller bringing the Golden Eagles within 3-2. A ground out moved Thoma to second base before Scott Finberg (Jr., Stillwater) singled to left field scoring Thoma and tying the game at 3-3 after six innings. Zach Rustad (Sr., Blaine) wrapped up his seventh inning for the Golden Eagles on the mound allowing just three runs while striking out five before UMC turned to the bullpen, but not before they had a lead to protect. “(Zach Rustad) didn’t get rattled when they scored their three runs,” said UMC head coach Steve Gust. “That didn’t seem to phase him. He stayed level. He stayed true to who he was. He wasn’t worried about anything except pounding the zone, mixing up his pitches and making them swing at his pitches. When he’s effective, he just attacks hitters.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Landyn Swenson (Jr., Devils Lake, ND) singled to center field to start the inning before Reed Hjelle blasted a no-doubt home run over the left field fence giving Minnesota Crookston a 5-3 lead heading to the eighth inning. “I was just seeing pitches, not trying to do too much,” explained Hjelle. “When you try to do too much good things don’t usually happen, so I just tried to play within myself.”
Dalton Grose (Soph., Waterville) came in and held the Huskies scoreless in the top of the eighth and remained in the game looking for a six-out save in the top of the ninth inning. Following a lead-off double off the left field fence, a single to left field put runners on the corners with no outs. With the tying run at the plate, Grose picked up a strikeout before inducing a pop-out in foul territory along the first base dugout for the second out of the inning. “(Dalton Grose) likes the pressure,” said Gust. “When the pressure at its highest, he’s at his best, and I think you saw that again today.” Grose dialed up a ground out to third base to end the game and close out UMC’s 5-3 win. “It means we got another win in the NSIC,” said Gust of the significance of defeating a nationally ranked program. “The bottom line is it doesn’t matter who we play if we can get another win and get that much closer to getting into the (NSIC) tournament that’s all we’re worried about. We just want to come out and compete hard every single day and do the little things to give ourselves a chance to win, and I think we’ve done that.”
UMC improves to 21-14 overall and 14-7 in NSIC play. The Golden Eagles continue their series with St. Cloud State with a doubleheader Saturday starting at Noon on KROX. St. Cloud State falls to 29-7 overall and 17-4 in conference play.
|Zach Rustad – UMC||7.0||5||3||3||2||5|
|Dalton Grose – UMC||2.0||2||0||0||0||2|
Reed Hjelle – 3-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs, walk