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Courtesy: USF Athletics

Cougars Split on Opening Day

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 02/16/2013
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USF (1-1) opened its college baseball year by splitting a doubleheader against Bemidji State University (1-3), winning Game 1 2-1, then falling in Game 2 8-1 at the NSIC Metrodome Baseball Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.

Matt Thomas Stepping in for a 0-1 pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning, freshman Matt Thomas had an at-bat to remember in game one. Playing his first game with the Cougars, the former Brookings standout made Bemidji State starter Jaryd Marks pay for his mistake, when he knocked a high fast ball to center field for a walk-off single that gave USF the 2-1 victory.
“Thomas had a good approach and was able to get a mistake out over the plate that he could handle, and punched it through the infield,” said sixth year coach Matt Guiliano, who is now 4-2 in season openers.
Junior southpaw Noah Coleman snapped a 10-appearance winless streak with a career effort on the mound. The Broomfield, Colo., native tossed a complete game, allowing one run on six hits with a career-best strikeouts for his first win since May of 2011.
“Coleman looked good,” Guiliano said. “He was able to locate all his pitches today, which allowed him to get out of some key situations.”   
Coleman looked shaky in the early goings as he was touched for a single and double by two of the first three Beavers he face. But he quickly settled and took care of the early jam himself by notching back-to-back strikeouts.
In the bottom of the first, USF freshman Noah Durkin battled back from a 1-2 count and laced a triple in his first collegiate at-bat. Redshirt senior short stop Corey Vasquez singled on Marks’ first offering to score Durkin. The Cougars threatened for more after Vasquez stole second and moved to third with a Keith Cutler sacrifice, but Austin Goodenow struck out to end the inning.
Coleman hit the lead-off batter in the second before retiring the side on 11 pitches.
The Cougars went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame before the Beavers came back to tie the game in the third. Chad Hanson led off with a double and took third on Joey Hanowski’s groundout. Zach Braun worked a seven-pitch at bat before taking No. 8 to right field, tying the game at 1-1.
Neither team was able to move another runner into scoring position until the Beavers’ half of the sixth. After Braun got rung up on a 3-2 count, Coleman’s pitching counterpart Marks singled and then scampered to second on a passed ball. Logan Kalis drew a five-pitch walk to put men on first and second for BSU but Coleman struck out the next batter before Vasquez and Goodenow went 6-3 to kill the scoring threat.
The Cougars went quietly in the sixth and Bemidji State notched a harmless one-out double in the top of the seventh.
USF opened the bottom of the seventh with a lead-off two sacker by third baseman Jeremy Varner. He was replaced by pinch runner Wesley Kroupa, which set the stage for Thomas’ heroics. Thomas sat on Marks’ first pitch and then sent a high fastball over the infield for the game-winning RBI.
Starter Marks was solid for BSU in the losing effort, working 6.1 innings and surrendering five hits and two runs while striking out eight.
Durkin, Vasquez, Cutler, Varner and Thomas each had one hit for the Cougars.
Game two got ugly quickly, as the Cougars gave up three runs in the first two innings and were held hitless until the fourth inning.

BSU plated two runs in the fourth and put up a three spot in the sixth, while USF broke up the shut out in the sixth with smart base-running by Vasquez. He reached second on an error by the Beaver short stop and then took third on a wild pitch.  Cutler’s sacrifice RBI plated Vasquez to create the final 8-1 margin.

New USF RHP Henry Ojeda had a rough first outing and was tagged for six runs on eight hits with two walks and a pair of strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Freshman Dylan Rock allowed two runs on three hits in 0.2 innings of relief.

Dwyer went 2-3 to lead the Cougars. Danny Hughes’ double was USF’s lone extra-base hit.

The Cougars had 14 strikeouts in the two contests.

“We need to make some adjustments at the plate if we’re going to be successful this year,” Guiliano said.
“14 K’s in a double-header is not going to get it done in this conference.”

 The Cougars will wrap up play at the NSIC Metrodome Baseball Classic with a Sunday morning twinbill versus No. 8 Minnesota State, Mankato.
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