2 outta 3 ain't bad
NDSU's Baseball team had a challenge on their hands this weekend up at Newman Outdoor. The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles came up for the final meeting of the year between the schools. ORU, they of a 90% winning percentage within the Summit League. They who had only two losses against all comers. Neither of the defeats were by the same team either so they came to town undefeated, series wise.
The Golden Eagles have presented a tall task for all of the teams in the league this year & for years past. NDSU has been in contention for the number two spot in the league for practically the entire conference season. They've also been playing some of their best ball of the season recently. But would their play be good enough to pull off what no other team has done this conf year and win the series or better yet to make history and be the first team to sweep ORU?
Three days of play and the answer has now come into focus.
Coming off a short run that got him national recognition, big Righty Luke Lind took the mound for the series opener. His talent was clear from practically the first pitch as batters whiffed on pitch after pitch on his way to racking up eight strike-outs. Unfortunately for him their bats eventually came alive and before the fifth inning was through he was told to cede the bump to Chris Choles.
It was shortly after that happened that a noticeable percentage of the small crowd in attendance filed out. It was their loss.
Oral Roberts knocked in another run in the sixth before the Bison made their late charge. Mason Pierzchalski was the one to get the rally started then a bases loaded walk of Logan Busch kept it going before JT Core hit his own two run single, all in the bottom of the seventh inning go from being down four to up one.
With one out in the eight the decision was made to bring in the guy with the most saves - Kevin Folman. He forced a quick strike-out, ground out to close the eighth and get the offense back to work. With the latest opportunity they loaded the basis again with only one out before Ben Peterson knocked in another pair of runs to make the score 10 - 7, NDSU. Three more outs by Folman & it was a done deal.
Now comes the real challenge, going from winning one game to being the first team in the conference to win the series. Oral Roberts' rubber match likely came sooner then they anticipated it being but that was what they faced in game two. After the 17 run shoot out, fans may have come to the ball park hoping for more of the same but what they spectated was a much different 9 innings.
In a word, it was pfantastic. I'm referring to the other senior starter for the Bison - Reed Pfannenstein. He notched a respectable seven K's but the key to it was that he went 8 1/3 innings before handing the ball off to Folman again whose job it was get out of a tight spot. The Bison had a 2 - 0 lead when the ninth started but Pfannenstain gave up one run before getting the hook. Folman came in with a man on second but got the first batter he faces to fly out. One more out and the series was theirs. Sadly it wasn't to be as the next challenger smacked a double to tie it up. After a hit-by-pitch, the final out was achieved but the lead had been replaced with a tie.
Would NDSU's Spring ballers be able to stand with their Fall & Winter mates? One more chance to find out.
The first offensive offering for the Bison went down swinging. That was followed by consecutive from Bennett Hostetler then Drew Fearing before Mason Pierzchalski came to the plate. With a hitters count of 2 - 1 Pierzchalski completed the trifecta with a single in right field to bring in Hostetler for the third run of the game, the win of the game and the win of the series. A tale of two games but both closed out the right way for the Fargo force! Now for the sweep Sunday afternoon!
Hoping for the sweep was a tall task. Maybe if the pitching had been different but giving up four runs over nine innings is nothing to sneeze at. It just would have been helpful if the starter would have been able to limit the amount of harm down. Pun intended, Jordan Harms.
The Bison bats managed more hits and more walks then Oral Roberts so it boils down to the timeliness of those positive developments. Today they couldn't string them together enough to dispense with the donut.
Can't go into full rip mode because they already locked in the series but it seems they need some additional sharpening before heading to the tournament. If there is a positive to take away from today, it's that NDSU's latest Bismarck area addition has the look of a future star.
Parker Harm, who for at least the second time recently, has come in for his near name double and pitched exceptionally well. In case you hadn't heard, today he threw four innings of one hit ball in only 49 pitches. An average of 12.1 pitches/inning is pretty awesome!
It wasn't the ending I was hoping for but it wasn't all bad either. Now they just need to continue on the upward trajectory that they've been on recently!