By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
With 10 losses in 14 games and a team batting average of just .246, it’s safe to say the Bethany Lutheran College baseball team was struggling as it entered Friday’s Upper Midwest Athletic Conference doubleheader with Minnesota Morris.
That all changed within a few hours as the Vikings erupted for 24 hits, 20 runs and a pair of victories to improve their record to 6-10. Bethany won the first game 12-0 in seven innings and took the second 8-3.
Virtually all of the players on the team agreed it was a performance the Vikings needed.
“We had to get our bats going,” said outfielder Lucas Herd, who smacked two doubles and a single in the opening game. “It’s been tough because we’ve been inside so much.
“But we were finally able to get outside the last few days and things started to come together. We were hitting some shots in practice this week, and we carried it over into the game.”
Bethany ended up with 15 hits in Game 1, including five for extra bases. Herd said he wasn’t surprised.
“They say hitting is contagious, and I think that’s what happened out there today. A couple of guys got hot, and we all started hitting.”
While the offense was playing pinball with the scoreboard in the opening game, right-hander Cory Ferm was shutting down the Morris attack. He allowed just two hits, struck out 11 and walked three.
“It was cold out there today,” he said. “My arm started to tighten up between innings so I had to keep stretching it to keep it loose.
“But my fastball out was working and so was my slider. I used the slider on a lot of 0-2 counts, and I started some batters off with it, too, just to keep them off balance.”
The Vikings built a 6-0 lead through six innings before scoring six more in the top of the seventh. Ferm ripped an RBI double and Joe Tuholsky, Herd and Dylan Gass added run-scoring singles to fuel the rally. Gass finished 3 for 5 and Tuholsky, Adam Geiger and Ferm ended up with two hits apiece.
In Game 2, the Vikings jumped to a 5-0 lead after two innings and stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way. Geiger went 3 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI to lead the Bethany attack.
Aaron Page started for BLC and picked up the win. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits through seven innings. Brady Collison pitched shutout ball the final two frames to earn the save.
“We’ve had a tough nonconference season, and I think now we’re ready to make a run during league play,” Herd said. “St. Scholastica and Northwestern are the two favorites so it’s our job to knock them off when we play them.”
Bethany and Minnesota Morris are scheduled to play a single game at 3 p.m. today at the Bethany Field.