Knocking on the door

MSU baseball on verge of NSIC tourney berth after doubleheader sweep of UMary

Sean Arbaut/Minot State athletics  Minot State first baseman Wyatt Schlosser makes contact with a pitch during an NSIC baseball doubleheader Sunday at Corbett Field. 

Minot State baseball is on the verge of program history.

The Beavers swept archrival University of Mary in a Sunday doubleheader at Corbett Field, winning by scores of 7-2 and 12-5, thus nearly ensuring they will be participating in their first conference tournament since moving to Division II in 2012.

Heading into the final week of the season, MSU (25-19 overall, 20-16 NSIC) sits in fifth place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings and trails Wayne State by a half-game for fourth place. With the top eight teams making the conference tournament, MSU is four games up on ninth place, meaning it will need to win only one of its final four games against Upper Iowa this week on the road to clinch a postseason berth.

“We put ourselves in a good position going into the final week,” MSU coach Scott Eul said. “We need to get the one, but we are playing for seeding now. We want to keep away from the one, two and three teams if we can and we are focused on that now.”

After walloping UMary 16-0 in Game 1 Saturday, Eul said he was disappointed his team allowed itself to be beat in the second game. But bouncing back Sunday and taking three of four weekend games from UMary (11-35, 7-30) was a nice consolation prize.

“We weren’t happy we didn’t get the sweep because we feel we should have swept these guys,” Eul said. “But we bounced back pretty well today and did what we had to do to get both games,” he said. “We were focused. We have stressed the last month of the season, it’s a long season and you have to be ready to go.”

In Game 1, the Beavers were all over UMary early.

Celestino Rodriguez hit his third home run of the year in the second inning for a 1-0 lead, then Paul Vogelsang slammed his fourth home run of the season in the third for a 4-0 lead. Rodriguez earned an RBI the painful way by getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth but gave his team a 5-0 lead.

The five-run lead was all ace Tanner Alexander needed. Alexander picked up his sixth win of the year after pitching seven innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts.

In the contest, Vogelsang was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Rodriguez was 1-for-2 with two RBIs.

The Beavers put up a five-run first inning and three-run frame in the second to jump out to an early 8-2 lead in Game 2.

MSU was in cruise control after the fourth inning with a 10-2 lead.

Bottineau native and Game 2 starting pitcher Mark LaCroix had a quality start with three runs (one earned) on six hits with four strikeouts in seven innings of work. He improved to 4-1 on the year.

First baseman Wyatt Schlosser had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs. UMary pitchers weren’t thrilled to face Schlosser throughout the series, as he had seven hits and eight RBIs in four games.

“Wyatt was clutch,” Eul said. “He came up with guys on all weekend and came through just about every time. It was nice to see that from him.”

Right fielder Michael Borst was 3-for-5 and continued to add to his program single season record by recording two RBIs. Centerfielder Jordan Schulz rounded out the offensive effort by finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored.

The Beavers close out the regular season with a pair of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday against Upper Iowa on the road.

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.