The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 10, 2014

MSU baseball team already reloading for 2015 season

Pitching staff will be rebuilt around returnee Butala

It has not only been a goal to make it to the NCAA Division II College World Series, it has become an expectation for the players in head coach Matt Magers’ baseball program at Minnesota State University.

Last month, for the third straight season, the Mavericks made their way to Cary, N.C. for the toughest Division II tournament of the year. They found themselves going home earlier than they had hoped, losing 4-3 to Southern Indiana in the semifinals.

After losing their first game to Seton Hill in the double-elimination tournament, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference regular season champions had to claw their way through the tourney with great pitching and timely hitting to even have their shot in the semifinals.

They followed the opening loss with a three-game winning streak, allowing only one run in each of those games. The Mavericks actually got revenge on Seton Hill and sent the Griffins home after a 3-1 win. Then they beat Southern Indiana 5-1, but since it was double-elimination, the two had to play each other in a win-or-go home game.

Magers believed losing the first game wasn’t going to be an issue, because they were so strong and had depth in their pitching.

“I think it put us in a good situation because we have some depth at pitching, so those guys had a chance to pick us up and bring us back to (Jason) Hoppe,” Magers said.

With the NSIC Pitcher of the Year in Hoppe on the mound, Magers couldn’t have asked for a better situation in an elimination game against the eventual champions of the tournament.

It didn’t quite work out, however, as Hoppe (who was later selected in the 27th round of the MLB draft) failed to hold a 3-0 lead. He gave up four runs in the fourth and the Mavericks ended up losing the game and ending their season.

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