The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 24, 2014

MSU's sweep of Huskies makes it 13 STRAIGHT

Mavericks remain on top of NSIC with 24-4 mark

By Jim Rueda jrueda@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — The Minnesota State baseball team won a nail-biter and a laugher on Wednesday, sweeping an NSIC doubleheader from St. Cloud State at the MSU field.

The Mavericks won 3-1 and 12-2.

The two victories strengthen MSU’s hold on the top spot in the conference with a 24-4 record. They also extend the Mavericks’ winning streak to 13 games.

In Wednesday’s opening game, played amid cold, windy conditions, MSU’s Jason Hoppe and St. Cloud’s Kyle Fisher locked up in a pitchers’ duel for five innings.

The Huskies manufactured a run off Hoppe in the fourth on a bunt single, a sacrifice, a throwing error and an RBI groundout.

MSU finally got to Fisher in the bottom of the sixth as the heart of the order put together a two-out rally. No. 3 hitter Max Waletich doubled to right center, Nolan Johnson followed with a triple to right, Stetson Olson added another triple to right center and Connor McCallum beat out an infield RBI single.

“That’s why those guys are batting in those spots,” MSU head coach Matt Magers said. “Guys like Johnson and Olson and McCallum have been in big games and big situations before and they’ve come through. Experience is something you can’t coach.”

Olson said the team wasn’t worried after going scoreless through the first five innings.

“We know you have to play the complete game so we had some time left,” he said. “It felt good to get that hit today. I had a big hit against St. Cloud in the playoffs last year, too.”

Hoppe went back out to the mound in the top of the seventh and retired three straight batters to get the win.

He ended with a flourish, getting the final batter looking.

“You try not to let the conditions dictate what you’re doing out there but you do have to adjust,” Hoppe said. “The wind kind of made my change-up flat today. It had no movement on it and they got some hits off it.

“I threw a lot more curves instead. I mixed the fastball and the curve most of the way and it worked out.”

Hopped finished with a three-hitter, striking out five without walking a batter.

In Game 2, the Mavericks again started slow but came through with eight runs over the last three innings to pull away.

Johnson led MSU’s 11-hit assault with an RBI triple in the first and a two-run homer in the third. Mike Andries aided the cause with a sacrifice fly in the second and a two-run double in the seventh.

Todd Standish, Johnson and Andries finished with two hits apiece.

Bryce Bellin pitched the first seven innings for the win. He gave up one earned run on five hits, fanned two and walked two.

The Mavericks (36-7) are off until Wednesday when they play a doubleheader at Concordia-St. Paul.