Smoke may have slightly spoiled a perfect day for baseball on Friday at Corbett Field, but Minot State fans got a clear glimpse as to what Beaver baseball can be in the future.
With a relatively young roster, Minot State played efficient in all three phases of the game en route to upsetting No. 3 St. Cloud State 7-5 in Game 1 of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader.
“Definitely felt like all components of our team came alive and did their jobs this game,” junior shortstop Sean Alp said. “Our pitching was stellar, our bats were alive and we played good defense too.”
The bats cranked out 12 hits, highlighted by three long balls.
Junior third baseman Taylor Williamson hit the first dinger during the second inning, which gave the Beavers a 2-1 advantage. Alp and junior catcher Paul Vogelsang both homered in the third inning that extended MSU’s lead to 5-1.
The Huskies trimmed their deficit to one (6-5) after a three-run shot by senior designated hitter Reese Gregory in the sixth inning.
But the Beavers had an answer.
Freshman right fielder Michael Borst logged a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth that gave MSU some breathing room at 7-5.
The bats did their job and junior starter Tanner Alexander did his.
Alexander threw six innings and yielded five runs, four earned, while striking out two.
Senior Alec Grothe came in and pitched the seventh, inducing a game-ending double play.
“It was a good game for us,” MSU coach Brock Weppler said. “… We are playing good ball right now. When you watch us play it’s probably hard to believe our record is what it is. We go out and beat, arguably the top team in the nation and when we come out with that attitude, we can beat anyone. We aren’t going to back down from St. Cloud. It’s just really good see.”
The Beavers fought and scrapped and got the tying run to the dish in the bottom of the ninth, but eventually fell 11-8 in the nightcap.
Borst hit a three-run bomb that hit the scoreboard in left, which gave MSU the early 3-1 lead in the first.
Junior catcher Jarrod Adams went yard in the second that re-staked the Beavers to a 4-3 lead. Freshman Geordie McDougall smacked a two-run shot that tied the game at 6 in the bottom of the fourth, but the Beavers just couldn’t keep pace.
The Beavers season will end tomorrow after Game 2 of a doubleheader with the Huskies. Game 1 starts at 1 p.m. The Beavers aren’t going to NSIC postseason tournament, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism.
Just two seniors – Micah Holmen and Grothe – factored in the Game 1 win on Friday night for Minot State.
All of the runs batted in over the course of both games were done so by underclassmen.
MSU’s leading home-run hitter Celestino Rodriguez is just a freshman.
“We’ve got some good young players in this program,” MSU coach Brock Weppler said. “We need some pieces on the mound and we’ve been addressing that in recruiting. The biggest thing for us is consistency. Being there everyday and not getting our butts kicked one game and having that roll over to more games. The season is too short to have game carry over. Our young guys and the guys we have returning they are confident group and a talented group and we are excited about the direction we are headed.”
John Denega covers Minot High athletics, Minot State softball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDenega_MDN.