Beavers fall to Rogers State 13-5
Pokorney goes 3-for-5 with 2 RBI in loss
A plethora of cancellations and schedule adjustments kicked the Minot State baseball squad off on a rough note in 2021, and the Beavers took the diamond in Claremore, Oklahoma Thursday afternoon looking to right the ship and grab their second win of the new campaign.
The 1-2 Beavers entered the contest with the goal of playing spoiler in the 2-1 Rogers State Hillcats’ home opener. Carson Tonini, making the first start of his collegiate career, would toe the rubber for the Beavers. The Minot native would be opposed by Drake Norton, making his second appearance of the season.
The two starters traded scoreless first innings, and Minot State’s redshirt freshman looked dominant in the home half of the first. Tonini induced a flyout to right field off the bat of center fielder Christian Merriwether, a groundout to second base from Mason Harvey, and another flyout to cap off a perfect first collegiate inning.
The Beavers got off to a fast start at the plate, as well. Third baseman Kaiden Cordoso led off the top of the second inning with a single to right field and advanced to second base on a mistake made by Brandon Bradshaw in the outfield.
Minot State’s backstop Matt Malone was next, and he came through with his first hit and RBI of the new season, giving the Beavers an early 1-0 advantage.
Unfortunately for the Minot State, its right-hander would not be able to work through the bottom half with the same ease he had displayed in the first. Bradshaw grounded a full-count offering to shortstop, but it was not handled by Kellen Peat. Third baseman Brooks Betcher worked a walk, and both runners came around to score on a two-run single lined to center field by shortstop Victor Ceniceros.
The ninth man of the game would be the last one Tonini faced, as head coach Scott Eul decided he had seen enough and yanked his starter in favor of Tim Carlson. The new Beavers arm needed just one pitch to escape the inning, forcing Merriwether to ground out to second base.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the top of the third inning, when Beavers center fielder Jackson Pokorney ignited another scoring rally with a leadoff single. Designated hitter Gunnar Kozlowitz followed with a single of his own, and the Beavers had put a serious threat together with nobody out.
Left fielder Jake Collins popped out, and Cordoso sent a line drive right to the shortstop, and it appeared the two singles might be wasted. Minot State benefitted from shaky Hillcats defense, though, and Pokorney scampered home after Ceniceros made a wide throw to first trying to double off Kozlowitz. Malone again stepped to the plate, and again came through in the clutch, lining a two-out double down the right field line for his second hit and RBI of the afternoon, plating Kozlowitz and giving the Beavers a 3-2 lead.
Eul went with junior southpaw Branden Hatley to start the third, and he faced the minimum through two innings, with some help from his defense in turning a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth, before running into trouble in the bottom of the fifth.
Seven total Hillcats strode to the plate in the frame, and three came around to score on the strength of a Jonathan Soto RBI double and an error by Minot State first baseman Blake Gallagher. Minot State did benefit from a spectacular sliding catch in foul territory by its catcher off a pop fly from Ceniceros.
Rogers State added five more in the sixth, when Cisneros got a run home thanks to an error by Cordoso, and the big hit of the inning went to Mason Harvey.
The Hillcats second baseman crushed a 1-2 offering from Trevyn Badger over the right-center field fence, and brought all three runners on base in front of him home with a grand slam to crack the game wide open at 10-3.
The Beavers drew up an answer in the top of the eighth inning, scoring two runners on an RBI single by Pokorney, but eventually fell to 1-3 on the young season with their eventual 13-5 defeat to Rogers State.
The Beavers’ next scheduled contest is Saturday, Feb. 27 against the University of Central Oklahoma. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m.=