Home Not-So-Sweet for Cougars
Through a particularly wintry spring, a myriad of site reversals has given the University of Sioux Falls baseball team the chance to play all but four games at home during the month of April.
Little did the Cougars know that Harmodon Park would be a home not-so-sweet and that Easter weekend would end with one more twist of the knife.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Derek Fischer plunked Josh Denison to force home UMD series hero Beau Goff with the winning run in a 5-4 walk-off win by the Bulldogs on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Sioux Falls.
The nomadic Bulldogs (12-19, 8-13 NSIC), who were the home team on the scoreboard and have yet to play a game in Duluth, took game one today by a 7-4 verdict to complete a four-game “home” sweep of USF.
With that, the Cougars (15-24, 9-17 NSIC) fell to 1-11 on their current fourteen game homestand.
Longtime head coach Matt Guiliano summoned Fischer from the bullpen to relieve junior righty Eric Brothers, and the senior ace induced a fielder’s choice grounder to get the lead runner at third and fanned the next Bulldog on three pitches to put two quick outs on the board. He put Denison in a 1-2 hole and was a strike away from getting out of the jam, but plunked him with his eighth and final pitch of the game.
Beau Goff touched the plate just before 5 p.m. CST, ending a 2-hour, 25-minute game in which the Cougars blew one lead but rallied to take a 4-3 advantage in the seventh with a clutch RBI base knock off the bat of Gunner Peterson.
A costly mistake allowed UMD to tie it in the ninth, however, when pinch runner Ryan Lakin stole second and advanced to third when the Cougar catcher overthrew the second baseman in an attempt to catch Lakin in the act. Comer tripled Lakin home and Brothers intentionally walked the next two batters to set up a potential double play situation before Fischer took the mound with no outs.
Michael Downs and Peterson both went 2-for-4 with an RBI to pace the Cougars at the plate, while freshman Anthony Lopez finished with two hits.
Brothers allowed five runs (just two earned) on seven hits, walked three and fanned six but did not factor into the decision. Fischer (4-5) was saddled with the loss.
The Cougars looked poised to win the opener, scoring three runs in the first and one in the second to stake sophomore right-hander Dylan Rock to a 4-0 lead heading to the home half of the second.
One bad inning and several big swings by a UMD lineup that pounded out 43 hits this weekend changed that, as Kyle Comer’s lead-off single was the first of four consecutive outfield hits for the Bulldogs. Six-foot five sophomore first sacker Alex Wojciechowski followed with a two-out, two-run double and Cole Aasen capped the scoring in the inning with an RBI base knock that pushed UMD in front 6-4.
Rock settled down after the rough second inning and held the Bulldogs hitless for two straight frames before a lead-off solo shot in the fifth created the final 7-4 margin. Rock (0-2) was charged with seven runs on 10 hits and walked one batter. Senior Austin Goodenow provided one inning of scoreless relief.
USF had a quartet of players post multi-hit efforts, with Noah Coleman, Noah Durkin, Ryan Fobes and Brandon Truesdell tallying two hits apiece. Gunner Peterson, Jeremy Varner, Michael Downs and Coleman were each credited with a run batted in.
Bulldog junior backstop Beau Goff went 9-for-14 in the four-game series, with two RBI and five runs scored.
USF will close out its lengthy homestand on Wednesday afternoon when they host the University of Mary (13-23, 6-12 NSIC) for a twinbill slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. at Harmodon Park.