GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The North Dakota baseball team capped a three-run, ninth-inning rally by scoring the game winner on a wild pitch as the Sioux knocked off South Dakota State 9-8 in non-conference action Tuesday at Kraft Field.
The late rally started with two outs in the ninth as seniors Kyle Bolander (Hermantown, Minn.) and Seth Means (Gillette, Wyo.) each singled before Sam Alt (Lino Lakes, Minn.) drove in the tying run with a sharp single off the shoulder of SDSU reliever J.D. Moore.
Moore remained in the game and had worked the count to 2-and-2 on freshman Alex Twenge (Minnetonka, Minn.), but uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Means to score the walk-off run and push UND’s (13-31) winning streak to three games.
“This was a total team effort,” UND head coach Jeff Dodson said. “We had several guys come through for us today starting with Brock Johnson, who threw exceptional in his first collegiate start. Seth Means and Kyle Bolander both had huge days at the plate and Sam Alt came up with probably the biggest hit of his career in the ninth.”
Means and Bolander both finished with three hits and Alt had two as the offense pounded out 12 in the contest. Bolander set a career-high with four RBI after belting a three-run homer in the fifth that put the Sioux ahead 5-1. The home run was his seventh of the season.
“When we were losing early in the year, games like this would go against us,” Dodson added. “As we have matured as a club and started to develop a little confidence in ourselves, we are starting to see some different results.”
Freshman Brock Johnson (Detroit Lakes, Minn.) held the Jacks hitless through three innings before the visitors got two hits in the fourth and took a 1-0 lead on a RBI-double by Zach Rhodes. He worked 5.1 innings and allowed only five hits and two earned runs.
Rhodes had three run-scoring hits in the game, including a two-RBI single in the ninth that broke a 6-6 tie. The top five hitters in the Jacks’ lineup accounted for all 10 of their hits.
SDSU took its first lead of the game, climbing back from the four-run deficit, with a three-run seventh inning. Paquette delivered the go-ahead run with a sharp single to center off UND reliever Brett DeGagne’ (Sauk Rapids, Minn.).
Freshman Talon Jumper kept the score at 6-6 throwing 1.2 innings of one-hit relief late in the game for the Jacks, but the Sioux would get to Moore in the ninth after the right-hander sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a walk to Follis.
With two outs in the ninth, Bolander ripped a two-strike pitch into the right-center gap, but fell awkwardly after rounding first base and would have to scamper back to the bag as Follis scored to make it a one-run deficit. Bolander would have to leave the game for pinch-runner Ben Clark (White Bear Lake, Minn.).
Means would then hit a bloop single to center that moved Clark into scoring position for Alt’s at-bat. After falling behind 0-and-2, the left-handed hitter ripped a full-count pitch back up the box that glanced off Moore’s shoulder and found its way into centerfield. Clark scored his first collegiate run and Means ended up on third, which set the stage for the walk-off run via a wild pitch.
DeGagne’ (2-4) picked up his second win of the season in relief as he worked 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs. Moore (0-1) was tagged with his first loss as the Jacks used eight different pitchers in the contest.
The Fighting Sioux have won nine of their last 12 games and will finish up their 15-game homestand this weekend with a Great West series against Houston Baptist. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday. Reigning GWC Pitcher of the Week Andrew Thome (St. Cloud, Minn.) will be on the mound for the Sioux.
– UND –