SMSU skid ends with 11-9 win

Crooked numbers in the third and fifth innings proved decisive as Southwest Minnesota State snapped a seven-game winless streak with an 11-9 win over Bemidji State in Tucson, Ariz. on Wednesday.

The Mustangs blasted the Beavers for 15 hits, seven of them for extra bases, as they put up six runs in the top of the third and four runs in the top of the fifth to secure the win.

“We needed that one in a big way,” SMSU head coach Paul Blanchard said. “We’ve been down here now for a few days and we’ve hit the ball and scored some runs recently. We continued that today, we got a lot of timely hits and we got enough runs where we could absorb anything that Bemidji threw at us.”

Jordon Kontz led the way for the Mustangs (4-8-1 overall) with three hits (including a triple), two RBIs and recorded a save for his ninth-inning pitching duties. Ryan Engels, Brian Ness and Kyle Young each recorded a pair of hits for SMSU in the game.

“We thought that was going to be the strength of our team with offense, we’ve got some veterans there and good mix with some of the younger guys,” Blanchard said. “It’s a different game down here. You’ve got a fast surface, you don’t have any clouds so the sun is a constant battle. You have to rely on your infielder’s to help point out where its at then go try and catch it. We benefitted from one ball to center field today where he dove for it and couldn’t find it. Plus the ball gets through the infield very fast, it’s more condusive to offense.”

The Mustangs, who led 10-6 after the fifth inning, stranded 13 runners on base in the game.

Bemidji State opened the scoring with a trio of runs in the bottom half of the second, before SMSU struck for six in the third. Carlson knocked home two runs on a double in the inning to give SMSU a 4-3 lead, its first of the game.

The Beavers answered back with two runs in the bottom of the third to cut SMSU’s lead down to 6-5, before tying the game with a single run in the fourth.

SMSU put four on the board in the top of the fifth thanks to a pair of walks and a BSU throwing error. Leading 8-6, Kontz drove in a run with an RBI single while Ness pushed the lead to 10-6 with a sacrifice fly.

An unearned run in the top of the sixth was the last run SMSU would score, but it was all they would need. Bemidji State scored a run in the bottom of the inning, as well as a pair of runs in the seventh, but could not get any closer as Corby McGlauflin and Kontz shut the door in the eighth and ninth innings.

Starter Joe Axelson picked up the win on the mound for the Mustangs, tossing six effective innings. Axelson allowed seven runs (four earned) on seven hits, three walks, and two strikeouts.

“Axelson started and gave us a chance to win,” Blanchard said. “I don’t know that that’s going to be his best outing, but he gave us a chance to win and held them in check for awhile.”

The Mustangs and Beavers are back at it again today, squaring off at 4 p.m.