The UMC Golden Eagles baseball team was caught in a back-and-forth battle with Bemidji State as they were able to prevail with the help of two late home runs to beat the Beavers 9-8 and sweep an important NSIC weekend series played in Crookston. “We found a way to win,” said the Golden Eagles Head Coach Steve Gust. “A lot of guys didn’t look good in their at-bats early in the game, but you’re only as good as your last at-bat, and today really showed that.”
Jake Osowski (Fresh. East Grand Forks) got the start on the mound for UMC, and he worked around a two-out double with a couple of strikeouts in the inning to put up a zero to start the game.
The Golden Eagles got some early run support with a couple of runs. Will Zimmerman (Sr. Park River, ND) and Mason Ruhlman (Sr. Algonac, MI) started the inning with back-to-back doubles to put two runners in scoring position. Scott Finberg (Sr. Stillwater) got UMC on the board with an RBI single. Parker Stroh (Fresh. Grand Forks, ND) brought in the second run of the inning on a sacrifice fly that turned into a double play to end the inning. “One of the things that we’ve done well is have plate discipline. When you know what pitches you hit hard, good things are going to happen,” explained Coach Gust.
After both teams went down 1-2-3 in the second inning, Bemidji State put up three runs in the third inning to take the lead. A one-out walk was followed by a two-run homer to tie the game at two. Two batters later, with two outs, a solo home run gave the Beavers a 3-2 lead. “He just left the ball up a few times, and when you leave the ball up, teams will make you pay in this league,” explained Coach Gust.
UMC got a couple of two-out hits but could not score answer in their half of the inning.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Osowski put up another zero in the fifth inning.
UMC was able to tie the game in the fifth inning with another run. Jack Peppel (Fresh. Olivia) was hit by a pitch to start the inning and scored from first one batter later on Zimmerman’s double to left field to tie the game at 3-3.
Bemidji State answered back in the top of the sixth with a couple of runs to take back the lead. A leadoff single came in to score on a one-out, two-run home run that just snuck over the left-field fence.
The Golden Eagles, like they have all year, came up with more two-out hitting in the sixth inning to re-take the lead. Finberg was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and with one out, Landyn Swenson (Sr. Devils Lake, ND) hit a single to put two runners in scoring position after the throw allowed Swenson to get to second. With two outs, Conner Fonger (Fresh. Superior, WI) was called on to pinch-hit, and on the first pitch, he saw he put the ball right down the rightfield line for a two-RBI double that tied the game. An error put Golden Eagles on the corners, and Zimmerman came through with an RBI single to take a 6-5 lead going into the seventh. “I don’t know what it is about [two-out hitting], but I know our guys try to extend innings and find good pitches to hit,” said Coach Gust. “I think we just make adjustments… guys are talking in the dugout to stay back or whatever it is.”
The back-and-forth battle continued with the Beavers putting up three runs of their own in the next half-inning. A quick first out was recorded by the UMC reliever, Jayden Grover (Sr. Cooperstown, ND). Then, two singles and an error loaded the bases for Bemidji State. The next batter tripled to clear the bases and allow the Beavers to regain the lead at 8-6.
UMC had runners at the corners in the seventh inning, but they were left stranded as a flyout ended the inning.
Grover settled in on the mound in the eighth as he retired the Beavers in order to keep the deficit at just two for the Golden Eagles. “I thought Grover pitched pretty well, and he hit spots. A lot of things just didn’t go his way,” said Coach Gust. He went on to add, “He pitched pretty well to get the win… it was his first win this year.”
In the bottom of the eighth, UMC snatched back the lead with a couple of long balls. A leadoff walk started the inning, and two batters later, Ruhlman stayed hot at the plate, hitting his eighth home run of the year and third of the series to tie the game at 8-8. One batter later, Brock Reller (Sr. Grand Forks, ND) sent a ball over the fence in right-center field for his team-leading eleventh homer as UMC hit back-to-back homers to take the 9-8 lead going into the final inning. “That’s what those guys do,” said Coach Gust.
Jackson Schneider (Jr. Forest Lake) came in for the save in the ninth inning, and he made quick work of things. He got two groundouts and a swinging strikeout to end the game and complete the weekend series sweep for the Golden Eagles. “Schneider was just ultra-focused and attacked the zone. That’s a crucial situation he hasn’t been in a lot… to have him to that is a good sign for our bullpen,” said Coach Gust. Coach Gust finished off by saying, “To get a sweep over any NSIC team says something about the character of the group of kids we have.”
UMC improves to 22-6 overall and 16-6 in the NSIC and moved into second place with the weekend sweep. In their final five games, UMC will travel to play Minnesota-Duluth in a doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 1:30. And then, they will play their final three games against Minot State with two games on Friday and one game on Saturday.
Bemidji State falls to 7-28 on the season and 6-23 in the Northern Sun Conference.
FOR THE BOX SCORE, CLICK HERE.
|Jake Osowski- UMC||6.0||6||5||5||2||7|
|Jayden Grover- UMC||2.0||3||3||2||0||2|
|Jackson Schneider- UMC||1.0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Kenny Morris- BSU||2.0||3||2||2||0||0|
|Hunter Haggenmiller- BSU||2.0||3||0||0||0||2|
|Travis Carruth- BSU||2.0||4||4||3||1||2|
|Logan Barrick- BSU||2.0||4||3||3||1||2|
Mason Ruhlman- 3 for 4, home run, double, 2 RBI, 2 runs
Will Zimmerman- 3 for 5, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, run
Landyn Swenson- 3 for 5, run, 2 stolen bases
Parker Stroh- 2 for 4, RBI
For Bemidji State
Parker Borg- 3 for 5, home run, double, RBI, 2 runs