The MSU baseball team was not successful in their endeavors of starting conference play off on the right foot, as they dropped their first three of four against the UMD Bulldogs over Monday and Tuesday in Mankato.
Over the four games, the Mavericks simply could not produce in the clutch moments they needed to in order to come out victorious in each game. They dropped the first game Monday 6-2, saw their second game stopped due to lack of sunlight and to be continued on Tuesday. The Mavericks would win the second matchup in extra innings, 3-2. Unfortunately the Mavs would drop the next two matchups on Tuesday by scores of 4-3 and 13-9.
For the most part, Minnesota State gave themselves opportunities to succeed in each game. In the first game, the Mavericks would answer a UMD Grant Farley homerun in the top of the third inning with a manufactured run-scored in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at one.
The Mavericks would end up leaving 11 men on base, as the Bulldogs were able to rally for five runs in the top of the fifth inning to solidify their lead. Minnesota State certainly had their chances in this one, as UMD committed four errors in the field and the Mavs were able to draw five walks against the Bulldogs’ pitching staff.
As a team, the Mavericks would strikeout in 12 of their 27 at-bats, which in most cases will not be productive in getting runners home.
Senior Kyle Toth went 2 for 4 with an RBI double to lead the Mavs. Sophomore Dalton Roach would pick up his second loss on the season, as he gave up 6 runs (5 earned) on 10 hits in 4.2 innings pitched.
The second game was a long one, as the game took two days to find a winner due to lack of sunlight Monday night. The Mavericks would grab a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by junior catcher Hunter Harnisch to drive home sophomore shortstop Luke Waldek.
UMD would tie the game up in the top of the fourth inning on a run-producing free pass.
The Mavericks would have an answer in the bottom of the inning with freshman designated hitter Jordan Hart producing a sacrifice fly to drive in sophomore centerfielder Josh Wenzel.
The Bulldogs would answer with another run in the sixth inning and tie the game at two. The game would be called in the eighth inning and resumed Tuesday from where they left off. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Mavericks sophomore first baseman Dylan Dresel would achieve his first hit on the day with a walk-off RBI single to right center, Toth being the winning run.
Minnesota State let the third game escape from them, as they built up a 3-0 and did not trail until the final inning.
The Mavericks scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning, with senior outfielder Taylor Branstad delivering an RBI single to right, scoring junior Eric Peterson. Wenzel would come through in the same inning with a two-run single scoring Peterson and Toth to put the Mavs at a comfortable three-run cushion.
The Bulldogs would piece together four runs in the final three innings, including the tying and winning run in the top of the seventh inning.
Peterson would try to score the tying run after a throw to first, but was called out at home to end the ballgame. The Mavs would get out-hit 10-6 and leave eight runners on base. Wenzel led the offensive attack, going 3 for 4 and 2 runs batted in.
The final game of the series included some offensive fireworks that were not seen in the previous three games, with both teams combining for 22 runs. UMD was able to jump out to an early lead and would never trail in this one.
The lead was 10-2 at one point but the Mavericks would hang around the entire game. Branstad would go 2 for 5 with 2 RBI, as would right fielder Chase Lonetti with a run scored as well. The pitching was shelled around for the game, as starter Mitchell Bauer pitched three innings, and gave up 7 hits and three runs before being lifted.
Bauer would be the first of seven pitchers to enter the game for the Mavericks. After the loss, the Mavericks are now 10-8 overall with a NSIC record of 1-3.
They will play Bemidji State this weekend at home with a pair of double headers Saturday April 4 and Sunday April 5. First game each day will start at noon.
Photo: (Yohanes Ashenefi/The Reporter)