The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) baseball team won game one 2-1 before falling in walk-off fashion 9-8 in game two in an NSIC doubleheader against “host” Southwest Minnesota State played at the UMC Baseball Field. 

GAME ONE – Southwest Minnesota State started the first inning with a single through the left side of the infield before a ground out moved the leadoff runner to second base. A single to center field plated the Mustangs’ first run of the game giving SMSU a 1-0 lead. In the top of the fifth inning, Scott Finberg (Jr., Stillwater) followed up back-to-back outs with a single to left field extending the inning. Mason Ruhlman (Jr., Algonac, MI) was hit by a pitch in the thigh putting runners on first and second base before a Griffin Fussy (R-Soph., Ham Lake) single to right field scored Finberg tying the game at 1-1. Louis Gerzin (Sr., Ely) took the mound replacing Nate Albrecht (Sr., Wahpeton, ND) with runners on second and third base and one out in the inning and forced a ground out and strikeout to escape the inning with the score still tied at 1-1 into the seventh inning. In the top of the seventh inning, Jonathan Lund (Sr., Tolna, ND) entered the game as a pinch-hitter reaching down to drive a low pitch over the left field fence for a solo home run giving the Golden Eagles a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. “Lefty-righty matchup and Lund obviously came through for us,” said UMC head coach Steve Gust. “We expect our seniors to do that when the game is on the line. Whether it’s guys off the bench, we expect them to have quality at-bats and he got his pitch right away and he didn’t miss it.” Dalton Grose (R-Soph., Waterville) took the mound and closed out the game securing a 2-1 win for Minnesota Crookston in game one ending the contest with two straight strikeouts. 

G1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
UMC 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 4 0
SMSU 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 1


Pitching IP H R ER BB SO
Nate Albrecht – UMC 5.1 7 1 1 0 5
Louis Gerzin – UMC 0.2 0 0 0 1 1
Dalton Grose – UMC 1.0 1 0 0 1 3

Jonathan Lund – 1-1, HR, RBI, run
Griffin Fussy – 1-3, RBI


GAME TWO – Following back to back outs to start the game before Reed Hjelle (Sr., East Grand Forks) walked to extend the inning. Brock Reller (Soph., Grand Forks, ND) walked followed by another free-pass issued to Travis Conoryea (R-Soph., Inver Grove Heights) loading the bases before a wild pitch allowed Hjelle to score giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead. A second straight pitch to the backstop allowed Reller to score before a third passed ball in the inning plated Conoryea giving Minnesota Crookston a 3-0 lead. Southwest Minnesota State plated one run in the bottom of the first inning cutting their deficit down to 3-1 after one inning. Reed Hjelle led off the third inning with a single to left field before moving to second base on a wild pitch. After Hjelle stole third base he scored on a wild pitch giving the Golden Eagles a 4-1 lead after three innings with all four UMC runs coming on errant SMSU pitches. Mason Ruhlman (Jr., Algonac, MI) singled to start the fourth inning before Griffin Fussy (R-Soph., Ham Lake) doubled to left field plating Ruhlman and pushing the Minnesota Crookston lead to 5-1. For the fifth time in the game, another pitch got past SMSU’s catcher allowing Fussy to score from third base while Bryce Jorgenson (Jr., Thunder Bay, Ontario) walked giving UMC a 6-1 lead. Southwest Minnesota State loaded the bases in the top of the fourth inning before a fly out to center field plated the Mustangs’ second run of the game before a double to right center trimmed SMSU’s deficit down to 6-3. After a pitching change, the Mustangs’ Jake Hendricks  (Soph., Waconia) blasted a three-run home run over the left field fence for a three-run home run tying the game at 6-6 after four innings. In the top of the fifth inning, Jonathan Lund(Sr., Tolna, ND) singled before a Ben Thoma (Soph., Clearbrook) single put runners on first and second base before Mason Ruhlman singled to right field scoring Lund from second base giving the Golden Eagles a 7-6 lead. In the bottom of the fifth inning, SMSU led off the inning with a walk before a single to right field put runners on the corners before a sacrifice bun plated the tying run making it 7-7. The Mustangs took their first lead scoring on a wild pitch to pull in front 8-7. After a fly out to left field to open the inning, Griffin Fussy singled to left field to start a rally before a Bryce Jorgenson single to left field put runners on first and second base with one out in the inning. A pop out in foul territory before Reed Hjelle was pitched around loading the bases with two outs in the inning. With the bases loaded, a groundout to second base ended the inning as SMSU preserved its 8-7 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. In the top of the ninth inning, UMC was down to its last out with no runners on base before Mason Ruhlman was hit by a pitch to reach first base and extend the game. Scott Finberg (Jr., Stillwater) stepped to the plate next and doubled to center field plating Ruhlman from first base and tying the game at 8-8. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the leadoff batter reached on an error before a sacrifice bunt attempt led to an out at second base retiring the lead runner. With the winning run on first base, a double to left field allowed the Mustangs to plate winning run and close out a 9-8 walk-off win. “We competed hard, that’s for sure,” said Gust. “They made one play more than us. Their pitchers were good today, they didn’t play over the weekend so they had a deep bullpen, which is good for us, we need to see that. Some of their pitchers that they threw are pretty decent pitchers and they just made one more play than us there in the second game.”

The Golden Eagles currently sit in sixth place in the conference (top eight teams advance to the NSIC Tournament) with a match-up against nationally ranked St. Cloud State coming up this weekend providing an opportunity for Gust’s team to bounce back, “we’ve just to learn from this. We’ve got to take what we can from this loss. It was a total team effort, losing. The one good thing that comes out of it is we competed all the way up to the last out so that’s really good. We’ve got to get better.”

Minnesota Crookston improves to 20-14 overall and 13-7 in conference play. The Golden Eagles return to the diamond on Friday when UMC hosts St. Cloud State for a three-game series beginning with a doubleheader on Friday beginning at 1 p.m. on KROX. Southwest Minnesota State improves to 6-19 overall and 5-15 in NSIC games.

G2  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
UMC 3 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 1 8 10 1
SMSU 1 0 0 5 1 0 0 0 1 9 11 0


Pitching IP H R ER BB SO
Graeme Cherry – UMC 3.2 7 5 5 0 1
Aaron Hollcraft – UMC 0.2 3 3 3 1 1
Garrett Hohn – UMC 0.1 0 0 0 3 0
Tyler Hegg – UMC 1.1 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Nelson – UMC 0.1 0 0 0 2 1
Louis Gerzin – UMC 1.2 0 0 0 0 3
Dalton Grose – UMC 0.2 1 1 0 0 1

Mason Ruhlman – 2-4, RBI, 2 runs
Griffin Fussy – 2-4, RBI, run, double
Scott Finberg – 2-5, RBI, double