GRAND FORKS, N.D. — As the host team of the 2011 Great West Conference Baseball Tournament, the No. 7 seed Fighting Sioux baseball team pulled off the only upset of the opening day, knocking off No. 2 seed Northern Colorado, 5-1, on Tuesday at Kraft Field.
Senior David Spies (Grand Forks, N.D.) allowed a leadoff home run to Adam Hilker, but that would be the only tally the Bears would muster off the southpaw in 7.2 innings of work. He picked up his third win of the season and junior Cory Baker (Byron Center, Mich.) made things interesting in the ninth, but finished off the Bears to pick up his fourth save of the season.
“Our guys came to the park energized and it carried over into the game,” UND head coach Jeff Dodson said. “David was outstanding and did a great job of making adjustments throughout the game. The offense gave him a quick lead to work with and that always helps and he and Cory did the rest.”
Spies was already working with a three-run cushion when Hilker’s blast occurred thanks to classmate Jake Magner (Grand Rapids, N.D.), who ripped a three-run homer in the top of the first to ignite the biggest home crowd of the season for UND.
The Sioux first baseman belted a full-count pitch deep over the leftfield wall off NC starter Joe Willman after senior Andy Sadler (Grand Forks, N.D.) and freshman Ryan Gerber (Tucson, Ariz.) led off the game with back-to-back singles. Sadler’s single extended his hitting streak to 23 games.
After the four teams combined for four runs in the first, the contest had the makings of a game from the regular season series in Greeley, Colo, where the teams combined for 107 runs and 129 hits, but a slugfest did not ensue in this one.
Spies scattered just six hits in his longest outing of the season and the only other decent opportunity NC had to score off the lefthander was in the third. The Bears put two runners on, but a Ben Packard, who hit .750 against the Sioux in regular season, lined into a double play to end that threat.
The bottom of the order helped the Sioux manufacture a pair of insurance runs as catcher Zack Trygstad (Wayzata, Minn.) was hit by a pitch and rightfielder Riley Beck (Munich, N.D.) hit a bloop single to set the stage for a big two-out, two-run double by Gerber.
Gerber laced a two-strike pitch down the rightfield line to put the Sioux ahead 5-1.
Neither team scored the rest of the way, but the Bears loaded the bases off Baker in the ninth with one out, but the righthander got Wilker to go down on strikes, then induced a game-ending groundout by Bret Fanning with All-Great West first team performer Jarod Berggren left standing in the on-deck circle.
Magner added a double in the ninth to put him a hit away from reaching the 200 plateau for his career.
UND will play No. 3 seed Houston Baptist on Wednesday night in a winner’s bracket game at 7 p.m. Day two action begins with an elimination game between No. 8 seed Chicago State and No. 5 seed NJIT at 10 a.m.
– Go Sioux –