The Minnesota State-Mankato baseball team's pitching staff was in the zone Sunday against Southwest Minnesota State, holding the Mustangs to just two runs in a sweep of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader at Alumni Field in Marshall.
The Mavericks, ranked first in the Central Region and sixth nationally, took Game 1 by score of 4-1, then had a pair of three-run innings in a 7-1 victory in Game 2.
The two wins extend MSU-Mankato's win streak to nine games. The Mavericks are now 33-7 overall and 21-3 in NSIC play. SMSU falls to 22-19 overall and 12-14 in conference games.
Photo by Matt
Southwest Minnesota State’s Kyle Young, right, grounds out to end the first inning of Game 2 of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader against Minnesota State-Mankato on Sunday at Alumni Field in Marshall.
Mustangs head coach Paul Blanchard said going into this four-game series against the Mavericks, which continues today with a doubleheader in Mankato, he knew that getting wins would be difficult. What he was looking for was his team to play well.
"For the most part, we did (play well)," Blanchard said. "We just didn't get any timely hits. We could have used a couple of those. We had some base runners on and just couldn't put it in play. Their pitchers held us down.
"We'll see what (Monday) brings. We'd like to take at least a game from these guys if we can. They've pretty much beaten everyone else, but we'd like at least a split (Monday)."
MSU000 012 1-4 8 0
SMSU000 001 0-1 7 0
MSU-Ben Kincaid, Nick Sutherland (6). SMSU-Alex Alvarez, Corby McGlauflin (7). WP-Kincaid. LP-Alvarez. HR: MSU-Lucas Skjefte, Patrick Dockendorf. 2B: MSU-Matt Kuchenbecker. LOB: MSU 7, SMSU 8.
MSU 003 000 310-7 12 0
SMSU 000 100 000-1 5 2
MSU-Martin Harvey, Aaron Page (9), Mahlon Zimmermann (9). SMSU-Jeremy Schmidt, Brandan Alfson (7), Dylan Shoemaker (7), Eric Giddings (8), Calvin Kosminskas (9). WP-Martin. LP-Schmidt. 2B: MSU-Skjefte, Dockendorf; SMSU-Ben Korger. LOB: MSU 10, SMSU 5.
In the first game of the twinbill, SMSU starting pitcher Alex Alvarez was able to match Mavericks starter Ben Kincaid through the first four innings as both teams were held off the board.
MSU-Mankato's Lucas Skjefte kicked off the scoring in the fifth with a solo home run to right field. Patrick Dockendorf added another solo homer for the Mavericks in the sixth and his team added two more runs after that.
Alvarez gave up four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk. He pitched 6 2/3 innings.
"Alex gave up a couple of solo home runs, but other than that, he pitched very well," Blanchard said. "He put us in a position to win, but we just couldn't score enough runs.
"We didn't have any errors and they didn't either. It was a well-played game and they just beat us."
Chris Eichten led the SMSU offense, going 2-for-4 at the plate. Tyler Flattum had an RBI single in the sixth for one of the Mustangs' seven hits.
In Game 2, the Mustangs got shut down by MSU-Mankato starter Harvey Martin, a transfer from Central Michigan. Martin pitched eight innings, allowing one run on five hits and one walk. He had five strikeouts in the game. With the win, his record improved to a perfect 9-0 on the season.
Jeremy Schmidt took the loss for the Mustangs, pitching six of the nine innings in what Blanchard said was a solid start. Schmidt gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Eichten was again the only Mustang with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 at the plate. Kyle Young, who was 1-for-2 with a walk, scored SMSU's only run in the game in the fourth inning.
Skjefte, MSU-Mankato's lead-off hitter and center fielder, had three hits and scored three runs to lead the Mavericks' offense. Second baseman Matt Kuchenbecker was 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk and a pair of runs batted in.
The Mustangs now sit in seventh in the NSIC standings, with Upper Iowa holding the No. 6 spot with a 14-13 conference record. SMSU has eight games remaining in the regular season. After today's doubleheader in Mankato, the Mustangs play at Bemidji State on Tuesday and close their schedule with a four-game series against Minnesota-Crookston on Saturday and Sunday. Bemidji State sits in ninth in the conference standings with a 12-18 record, while Crookston is last in the 13-team conference at 4-26.