McGlauflin leads SMSU baseball to split in Bemidji

Freshman Travis McGlauflin’s first career nine-inning complete game helped the Southwest Minnesota State baseball team salvage a split with Bemidji State Wednesday in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader in Bemidji. McGlauflin led the Mustangs to a 6-1 win over the Beavers in Game 2 after BSU roughed up SMSU 10-3 in the opener.

“It was great, he was very efficient with his pitches. He threw 89 for the game,” SMSU head coach Paul Blanchard said. “In a nine-inning complete game, you can’t ask for much more there. He scattered six hits, walked one guy, struck out five and didn’t hit anybody. A really clean game for him, very efficient. We’re very pleased with his improvement throughout the course of the year. He’s just been real steady for us and we’re just happy that we’ve got him for three more years.”

The split puts SMSU at 13-23-1 overall and 8-14 in the NSIC. The Mustangs would need to sweep this weekend’s four-game series against Minnesota-Crookston and get help from other teams to qualify for next week’s NSIC tournament in St. Cloud.

McGlauflin did his part in keeping the Mustangs’ playoff hopes alive. He needed just 89 pitches to get through nine innings in the second game. He struck out five batters and allowed one earned run on six hits and a walk. McGlauflin has tossed at least 7 2/3 innings in his last three starts and has given up just four earned runs over the last 23 2/3 innings.

Brian Ness had a strong game offensively to give McGlauflin some run support. The first baseman went 3-for-4 with a double and a walk. He drove in three runs and scored two.

Steven Kremer and Jordon Kontz also had multi-hit games for the Mustangs. Kremer went 2-for-3 with two walks, while Kontz was 2-for-4 with one walk.

“It seems like every year that I’ve coached that there is one guy who hits the ball well and it gets caught every time,” Blanchard said. “You can call them snake bit, and for a lot of the year (Kontz) has been snake bit. But he’s finally hitting the ball hard and it’s finding some open space. He sprays it around and he’s getting his hits.”

SMSU held a 3-0 lead before striking for three more runs in the top of the seventh inning to break the game open. A two RBI double by Ness helped key the big inning.

Things didn’t go so smoothly for SMSU in the opener. The teams were tied at 1-1 through three innings before BSU struck for nine runs over the next three innings to take a commanding lead.

Brandan Alfson got the start for the Mustangs and tossed four innings. He took the loss, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts. He also hit two batters.

The Mustangs used five different pitchers over the next two innings as the Beavers continued to add to their lead.

“Early on we pitched alright,” Blanchard said. “We kind of dodged a bullet giving up just one run during the first three innings. Even when it was 3-1, we were still in it and still had a chance, but we made an error in there and allowed a couple runs. They seemed to hit the ball pretty well after that.”

BSU center fielder Chad Hanson, right fielder Trevor Purvis and third basemen Matt Ellinghuysen each had three hits and two RBIs to power the Beavers’ offense.

“They hit .338 as a team,” Blanchard said of BSU. “They’ve got seven guys in their lineup with over 40 hits, so offensively they are very good. And they’ve got some guys hurt too. They’ve done a good job and we just plain got beat.”

SMSU was led at the plate by Kontz, who went 3-for-4. Kremer went 2-for-2 with a walk, and Ness had a two-run home run in the sixth.

The Beavers finished Game 1 with 15 hits to SMSU’s eight.

“We didn’t hit the ball well at the beginning of the day,” Blanchard said. “It took us awhile to warm up, but we got a lot more going in the second game. In the first game their pitcher did a nice job, and the stuff we did hit, they made plays on. In the second game we got some good hits, some timely hits and put a nice offensive game together.”

SMSU’s final four-game series of the regular season against Minnesota-Crookston will also be its only home games. Friday’s doubleheader against the Golden Eagles is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. at Alumni Field, while the first pitch Saturday is set for noon.