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Freshman Andrew Thome tossed his third shutout of the season, holding NJIT to a pair of hits in a 1-0 victory Tuesday in round one of the Great West Tournament.
Thome two-hits NJIT in GWC Tournament opener
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Updated: Saturday 05/22/2012 23:36:55 (ET)
by Ryan Powell, UND Media Relations
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OREM, Utah - Freshman Andrew Thome (St. Cloud, Minn.) struck out the side in the ninth to finish out a two-hit shutout of NJIT in the opening game of the Great West Conference Baseball Tournament on Tuesday. The sixth-seeded Sioux (18-35) mustered only one run off NJIT starter Mark Leiter, but that is all UND would need to upset the third-seeded Highlanders (25-26).

It was the second straight season UND opened the event with an upset as Thome fanned nine and did not walk a batter in the 1-0 victory as he tied the school's single-season record for shutouts with his third in 2012.

"Andrew really made his mark around the league today," UND head coach Jeff Dodson said. "He had really good stuff. The last inning to strike out the side and with the movement he had on his pitches was amazing."

Thome's classmate Sam Alt (Lino Lakes, Minn.) provided UND with that pivotal run in the seventh with a one-out, RBI-single to center. Fellow freshman and GWC Newcomer of the Year Jeff Campbell (Clearwater, Fla.) led off the frame with a double as the Sioux (18-35) broke the scoreless tie.

"Sam came up and put another good swing on a ball," Dodson added. "He has come through with some big hits for us this year and it was great to see him come through in the clutch."

Thome's gem was not without some stressful moments as all five NJIT baserunners reached scoring position in the contest. In the third, which was the only frame NJIT put two men on, Thome left runners stranded on second and third after he got Mike Rampone to ground out to short.

In the sixth, the Highlanders put the leadoff man on again thanks to a Sioux error, but after moving Anthony Caiola to second on a sacrifice bunt, NJIT hit back-to-back flyouts to keep the game scoreless.

Designated Tom Bouck had the hardest hit ball of the game for the Highlanders in the seventh when he hit a two-out double to right-center, but Thome induced another groundout to end that frame.

The higher-seed had its leadoff man at second in the eighth after Thome made a throwing error on a comebacker off the bat of James D'Aloia. But, once again Thome buckled down and left D'Aloia stranded at third after a sacrifice bunt moved him up a base.

"I took the game on my shoulders a little bit," Thome said after allowing the leadoff man to reach in the eighth. "I made an error there to start the inning, so I knew I had to bear down and get us out of that. It definitely pumped us up."

The Sioux also had chances to score more than the one run, but Leiter was equal to the task until Alt delivered in the seventh. The NJIT right-hander scattered seven hits over eight-plus innings of work.

Senior Kyle Bolander (Hermantown, Minn.) had two hits along with Kwak to pace a seven-hit attack for UND. Kwak extended his season-long hitting streak to 10 games with a one-out single in the sixth.

After Alt's single scored Campbell in the seventh, the Sioux loaded the bases, but Leiter was able to strike out Beck to limit the damage to the one run.

Bolander led off the fifth with a double down the right-field line, but he was left on third after Leiter got back-to-back groundouts, including a nice play by Rampone at second.

Thome (5-5) finished off the game by striking out NJIT's three, four and five hitters, who went a combined 0-for-12 in the contest. He is the only freshman in the country with three nine-inning shutouts this season and is 4-0 with a 0.65 ERA in his last five starts.

UND will play the winner of No. 2 UTPA/No. 7 Chicago State at 1:15 p.m. CT on Wednesday.

- UND -

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