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BB: Cougars split with Concordia to snap five-game NSIC losing streak

USF Cougars
USF Cougars

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KWSN): USF’s five-game losing streak came to a halt today at Harmodon Park, as the Cougars split a Saturday twinbill with the visiting Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears (26-12, 18-10). USF (18-29, 12-22 NSIC) dropped the opener 8-2, but rode another stellar pitching performance by junior right-hander Henry Ojeda for a convincing 8-1 win in the nightcap.

Concordia had a magic number of one over either SMSU or Bemidji State entering the weekend, meaning a win or a loss by either team would secure an NSIC postseason bid for the Golden Bears.


Game One


The Golden Bears combined a lead-off single, wild pitch and fielding error by the Cougar shortstop to scratch across a run in the top of the first inning. They increased the margin to 2-0 in the third with an RBI single up the middle off of Cougar starting pitcher Eric Brothers.


The Cougars answered with two runs in the third. Michael Vine led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on Noah Durkin’s base knock before crossing home on a sacrifice fly from Trevor Crow. Noah Coleman singled Durkin home to tie the game at 2-2.


Sioux Falls had Cougars on the corners with one out in the fourth, but wasted the opportunity when the lead runners was extinguished on a double-steal attempt before Kramer induced a fly out to end the inning.


The Cougar bats were put in the freezer by senior righty Adam Kramer (6-2) the rest of the way, as he worked three excellent innings for the wire-to-wire victory, setting down 11 straight Cougars—a stretch that included six strikeouts in a row. Kramer allowed five hits and a walk while fanning eight.


Concordia pushed across a single run in the fourth to regain the lead and blew the game open with a five-spot in the fifth to create the final margin.


Golden Bear junior Kyle Dalton went 3-4 with two stolen bases, four runs scored and an RBI from the top of the lineup and senior Brooks Beilke went 3-4 with four RBI to pace Concordia's offensive attack.


Brothers (1-6) took the loss, giving up five runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.


The Cougars had five singles from five different players. Coleman and Crow each batted in a run.

Game Two

USF turned the tables in game two, pounding out nine hits including a three-run homer by Noah Coleman to rout the Golden Bears 8-1.


Sioux Falls starter Henry Ojeda put in his best performance of the season, needing 103 pitches to twirl seven innings of one-run ball and lower his team-leading ERA to 2.64. 


The California native walked just two batters while striking out five to improve his pitching record to a career-best 7-5. 


As he has done so often this season, Ojeda settled in quickly and surrendered just two hits through the first four innings.


USF jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first with Crow’s RBI fielder’s choice and RBI double from senior Jeremy Varner. Ryan Fobes drew a lead-off walk in the third and scored from third on a wild pitch for a 3-0 Cougar advantage.


The score remained the same until the sixth, when Dylan Dwyer drew a walk to lead off the inning and later scored on a passed ball. Noah Coleman had a senior moment to remember. The four-year starter crushed a three-run no-doubter to right field—his third career home run but his first in more than two years—and USF’s lead bulged to 7-0.


Concordia broke up the shut-out with a left field single in the seventh but the Cougars got the run back with Gunner Peterson’s RBI one-out single in the home half of the inning.


Freshman southpaw Connor Gibson worked two scoreless innings in relief of Ojeda. 


Coleman went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored, while Durkin and Varner each posted two-hit efforts.


USF will wrap up its 2014 season against Concordia with a second twinbill slated to begin at noon at Harmodon Park. Tomorrow’s game will be the last for a septet of seniors: Noah Coleman, Dylan Dwyer, Derek Fischer, Ryan Fobes, Austin Goodenow, Jeremy Varner and Michael Vine. 

Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls