After a weeklong break, the No. 16 Minnesota State University, Mankato baseball team returned to action yesterday against Sioux Falls for an afternoon doubleheader. The Mavericks thoroughly dominated the Cougars in both games, winning 11-5 in game one and 13-2 in game two.
Senior Brendan Knoll got the start on the mound in game one for the Mavericks and picked up his seventh win of the season. Knoll pitched 4.2 innings, allowed five runs, and struck out six batters.
The Mavericks opened game one with a bang, as junior outfielder and leadoff hitter Ryan Wickman blasted a solo homerun in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. MSU extended the lead to 4-0 in the top of the second inning when junior infielder Mikey Gottschalk tallied a three-run RBI double to right field.
The Cougars were able to get on the board in the third inning with two runs of their own, cutting the Maverick lead to 4-2. The Mavs responded with a four-run fourth inning that was highlighted by a three-run homerun by sophomore infielder Jackson Hauge, bringing the lead to 8-2.
Minnesota State’s bats continued to heat up into the fifth inning, as three different Mavericks scored and brought the lead to 11-2. USF was able to muster up three more runs in the bottom of the fifth, but it was too little too late as MSU took game one by a dominant 11-5 final.
The Mavs and Peacocks got a short break before returning to the field for game two of their doubleheader.
Junior Nick Altermatt remained perfect on the mound this season as he picked up his eighth win of the season. The Wanda, Minn. native tallied six strikeouts and allowed only one hit in his six innings pitched.
MSU’s hitting picked up right where it left off as Gottschalk collected an RBI triple to center field early in the first. Moments later, senior pitcher and outfielder Cam Kline extended the MSU lead to 2-0 with an RBI single of his own.
The Mavericks opened the floodgates in the second inning, pouring on five runs. The Mavs’ five run second inning was highlighted by two, two-run homeruns by Altermatt and Hauge, which extended the lead to 7-0.
The Mavericks found themselves up 10-0 in the fourth inning thanks to RBIs from Wickman, Hauge, and sophomore infielder Adam Schneider. Sioux Falls was able to get two runs on the board in the fourth inning, but would be kept scoreless throughout the remainder of the game.
Three RBI singles by Minnesota State in the sixth inning would cap off the scoring for both teams. With the 10 run rule in effect, the Mavericks took game two by a convincing 13-2 final and improved to a 29-5 overall record and 22-3 record in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).
Minnesota State is set to return home this weekend to host Upper Iowa for a conference series at Bowyer Field. The Peacocks come into this weekend’s action with a 9-24 overall record and a 7-15 record in NSIC action.
The Mavs dominate the Peacocks in the all-time matchup with a 27-6 overall record including a perfect 13-0 home record. The two teams last met on Apr. 18, 2021, where MSU took a high-scoring affair by a 12-6 final.
Upper Iowa has struggled this season in the hitting department. Senior infielder Jerry Garcia leads the Peacocks with a .299 batting average while also accumulating 15 RBIs on the season.
The Peacocks’ pitching crew is led by senior Jason Katz, who owns a perfect 2-0 record on the season and a 2.93 earned run average. Through 15.1 innings pitched, Katz has also tallied seven strikeouts and has only allowed six runs.
Start times for Saturday’s games between the Mavs and Peacocks are set for 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The two teams will return to the field for the series finale on Sunday starting at 12 p.m.
Header Photo: The Minnesota State baseball team swept the Sioux Falls Cougars in a doubleheader to remain atop the NSIC standings with a 22-3 conference record. The Mavs have eight more regular season games before playoffs. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
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