MARSHALL - Southwest Minnesota State's Sam Haas wasn't making solid contact in recent weeks.
That all changed Wednesday afternoon as Haas lifted a deep ball over the head of the left fielder in left-center field, giving the Mustangs a 6-5 walk-off victory over Winona State in the second game of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader.
SMSU coach Paul Blanchard was especially pleased to see the ball come off his bat that way.
Photo by David Merrill
Southwest Minnesota State’s Brandan Alfson hits a home run against Winona State during Game 1 of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader Wednesday at Alumni Field.
Photo by David Merrill
Southwest Minnesota State’s Brandyn Olsen tags out a Winona State baserunner Wednesday.
"He stayed on it and he sent it out to left-center field," Blanchard said. "He was finally able to get something on it. He had been struggling lately, so it was nice to see him get a timely hit like that."
Haas finished the game going 2-for-4 with one RBI and scoring one run himself.
Getting that hit was a huge load off his shoulders.
"It was a big confidence-booster," Haas said. "I just told myself to hit it hard somewhere. I was sitting on a fastball and he gave me one. I just went with it. I felt really good."
In the second game of the doubleheader, SMSU took a 4-3 lead into the seventh before the Warrior's Travis Evanson hit a two-run homer to give WSU the lead back at 5-4.
Jon Elllis got Mustangs started in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run to center field, tying the game 5-5. Austin Stubbs and Patrick Rients both went down swinging in the next two at-bats before the two-out magic started.
Brandan Alfson lined a double to right-center field before Ryan Engels took one for the team, getting hit by a pitch that set up the game-winning double for Haas.
Scott Freiburger entered the game with seven saves and the hit by Haas was his first blown save of the season.
Blanchard liked the way his team was able to work out of jams during the second game.
"I thought we did a good job of getting out of some jams and we had some breaks and hit the ball hard," Blanchard said. "Our pitching did well enough to keep us in the ballgame. We're kind of a the tail end of things and they were also. We just survived it the longest."
Travis McGlauflin got the start on the mound and went 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four while walking two and allowed five earned runs on 10 hits. Ryan Ecalbarger relieved him and pitched 2 1/3 innings. He struck out one while allowing no walks and two hits and he picked up the win to move his record to 1-0 on the year.
Jay Voter got the start on the mound for the Warriors, striking out four, walking two and giving up four earned runs and nine hits in four innings of work.
The Warriors took the first game 8-5 thanks to three-run innings in the fifth and seventh. Evanson and Nehring gave the Mustangs pitching staff fits as they combined to go 5-for-9 with four RBI on the day.
Both had home runs and Evanson also had a single and a double on the day while Nehring also had one single.
WSU also got hits from Michael Hommes, Mike Wasilik, Lucas Warren, Andrew Geislinger and Ryan Nyhagen. Nathan Krause, Geislinger and Nyhagen also finished the game with RBI.
Left fielder John Ellis was the leading RBI man for the Mustangs, driving in two while going 2-for-4 from the plate with a double and a single. Right fielder Brandan Alfson also finished with two RBI for the Mustangs in the first game, going 1-3 from the plate with a home run.
The Mustangs also got hits from designated hitter Patrick Rients (2-for-4), first basemen Austin Stubbs (1-for-4), Jarred Carlson (1-for-4) and catcher Tanner Neale (1-for-2). Rients also had an RBI.
SMSU provided plenty of help for WSU, committing five errors on the afternoon. They also allowed six runs to the Warriors when SMSU had collected two outs in the fifth and seventh innings.
The Mustangs used a committee of four different pitchers in the first game, none of which lasted longer than 2 2/3 innings. Steven Wehr, Brandyn Olsen, Danny Thering and Hayden Willner combined for just four strikeouts.
The eight runs allowed came on 10 hits and five were earned.
Hayden Krimmer pitched five innings and got the win for the Warriors, striking out six while walking none and allowing three runs on six hits.
The opening contest is where Blanchard felt WSU showed why it was a runner-up in the national championship two years ago.
"They hit the ball well and we didn't pitch very well," Blanchard said. "We certainly didn't play very good defense. They took advantage of every situation and got some timely hits."
The biggest frustration for WSU coach Kyle Poock was the number of runners his team left on base for both contests.
The Warriors left 11 runners stranded in the first contest and seven more in the second.
"We left guys on base all day long," Poock said. "We had terrible at-bats with guys in scoring position. They pitched well in those situations, but if we do better with guys in scoring position, we have a good chance of winning them both."
WSU 8, SMSU 5
Southwest Minnesota State1002002-585
HITTING: WSU (Nehring 2-for-5, HR, three rbi, run; Wasilik 1-for-4, double, run; Evanson 3-for4, double, rbi, three runs; Hommes 1-for-4, run; Warren 1-for-2, run; Geislinger 1-for-3, rbi; Nyhagen 1-for-4, two rbi); SMSU (Alfson 1-for-3, HR, two rbi, run; Ellis 2-for-4, double, two rbi, run; Rients 2-for-4, rbi, run).
PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO):WSU (Wehr 2 2/3-3-1-1-0-0; Olsen 2-4-3-3-3-1; Thering 1 1/3-1-1-1-2-3; Willner 1-2-3-0-0-0); SMSU (Krimmer 5-6-3-3-0-6; Kubera 1 2/3-2-2-2-2-2; Freiburger 1/3-0-0-0-0-1).
SMSU 6, WSU 5
Southwest Minnesota State001300002-6150
HITTING: WSU- (Cazares 4-for-4, double, rbi, run; Geislinger 2-for-4, double, two rbi; Hommes 1-for-5; Nyhagen 2-for-5, Nehring 2-for-5, two runs; Evanson 1-for-3, HR, two rbi, run; ); SMSU- (Ellis 3-for-4, HR,double, three rbi, run; Rients 2-for-5, double, run; Alfson 3-for-5, double, two runs; Haas 2-for-4, double, rbi, run).
PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO):WSU (Voter 4-9-4-4-2-4; Lohff 2-1-0-0-2-1; Crimmins 2-2-0-0-0-2; Freiburger 2/3-3-2-2-0-2); SMSU (McLauflin 6 2/3- 10-5-5-2-4; Ecalbarger 2 1/3-2-0-0-01).