NCAA BASEBALL: SMSU reaches .500 with win vs. Northern

TUCSON, Ariz. – Brandan Alfson led a season-high 16-hit Southwest Minnesota State attack with three hits and four RBIs to lead the Mustangs to a 14-9 victory over Northern State in non-conference play on Sunday at the Tucson Invitational.

“Without the availability of the Metrodome over the next two seasons, Northern is one of about a half-dozen Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference teams in Arizona that the Mustangs will face during the week. “It gives us a sneak peek of some teams we’ll see down here,” SMSU head coach Paul Blanchard said.

Jimmy Callahan (1-0) picked up the victory for SMSU (4-4) tossing the first 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Ryan Ecalbarger tossed two solid innings of relief, allowing one unearned run with five strikeouts.

Coach Blanchard has been pleased with the performance of his pitching staff early in the season.

“Our pitching has kept us in games so far,” Blanchard said.

Sam Haas also had a big day at the plate for the Mustangs going 3 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. Ben Korger, Patrick Rients, Jordon Kontz and Austin Stubbs all collected two hits for SMSU.

SMSU jumped on the board early as Korger drilled a double to start the game off the wall in left-center and came around to score on a ground out by Kontz. Stubbs singled with two outs and scored moments later when Alfson’s fly ball to center was misplayed due the wind and sun for a double and a 2-0 SMSU lead.

“We’ve been getting big hits from a number of players up and down the roster,” Blanchard said.

NSU (1-2) countered with a run in the bottom of the first, but SMSU gained the two-run lead back in the top of the second as Tanner Neale drilled a solo homer the first of his career over the left field wall to make the score 3-1.

SMSU extended the lead with a big third inning pushing across four runs on four hits. Kontz and Rients started the frame with singles and a hit by pitch to Stubbs loaded the bases. Alfson then ripped a two-run double to make the score 5-1. Haas made it 6-1 with an RBI single, before Elliott Serbus laid down perfect sac bunt to score another run and extend the lead to 7-1.

The Mustangs made the score 8-1 in the sixth on a lead-off triple by Korger, who scored one batter later on a run-scoring double by Rients.

The Wolves wouldn’t go away and scored six runs in the sixth, taking advantage of four walks, two SMSU errors and two hits to trim the lead to 8-7.

SMSU had a big answer in the top of the seventh with Haas stroking a one-out triple and then scoring on a single by Serbus to make the score 9-7. SMSU later loaded the bases and Rients pushed across another run with an RBI fielder’s choice to give SMSU a 10-7 lead.

NSU pushed across an unearned run in the home half of the seventh, but SMSU added to the lead in the eighth using a hit by pitch and three walks, including one to Jon Ellis with the bases loaded, to make it 11-8.

SMSU added insurance runs in the ninth with an RBI single by Alfson, a bases loaded hit by pitch by Engels and a sac fly by Derek Branson.

SMSU and NSU will meet again Monday with a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. CDT.

SMSU 7, Concordia 6

TUCSON, Ariz. – Patrick Rients belted a two-run homer and finished with two hits to lead Southwest Minnesota State to a 7-6 victory over NAIA Concordia (Neb.) on Saturday at the Kino Sports Complex.

Jarred Carlson’s two-out bases loaded walk in the sixth inning snapped a 6-6 tie and proved to be the game-winning run for SMSU (3-4)

Concordia (4-9) started the ninth inning with a double, but SMSU relief pitcher Brandan Alfson entered the game and struck out all three batters he faced to earn his second save of the season.

The Bulldogs opened the game’s scoring with a two-out rally in the top of the first, putting together a double, single and triple to open a 2-0 lead.

The Mustangs quickly answered in the home half of the inning as Jordon Kontz led off with a single and was followed by a long home run by Rients his team leading third of the season to tie the game at 2-2.

SMSU took advantage of several Concordia mistakes in the third inning to take the lead. The Mustangs took advantage of an error, two hit by pitches and a single to score three runs and build a 5-2 lead.

Concordia trimmed the lead to 5-4 plating a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning.

SMSU pushed across an unearned run in the fifth to take a 6-4 lead before Concordia rallied with a two-run sixth to tie the game at 6-6.

The Mustangs then regained the lead in the sixth taking advantage of a two-out error and wild pitching. Kontz reached on a two-out fielding error before Rients walked and Austin Stubbs was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Carlson then coaxed a walk to put SMSU back into the lead at 7-6.

SMSU had just seven hits in the game with Kontz leading the way going 3 for 5 with three runs scored.

Hayden Willner picked his first collegiate victory tossing 2 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits with three strikeouts. Travis McGlauflin started for SMSU and lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up six runs, four earned on nine hits.