The Thunderbird offense carried over the momentum from its 14-0 victory in Friday’s game, putting up three runs in the first two innings to go up 3-0. Right fielder Marcus Romero drove in two runs in the bottom of the first and Taggart Lunceford crossed the plate on a wild pitch in the second inning to give Southern Utah the three-run advantage.
The Jackrabbits answered with four runs of their own in the top of the third for a one score lead, but freshman third baseman Kevin Kline drove in Romero in the bottom half of the frame to even the score at 4-4.
The tie didn’t last long however as SDSU plated two more runs in the following inning to go up by a count of 6-4. An RBI triple for Romero would cut the margin to a single score in the bottom of the seventh, but the Jacks added two more runs in the next inning to push their lead to 8-5.
In the bottom of the eighth Kline’s second homerun in as many days sparked an SUU rally that saw the Thunderbirds put runners on second and third with just one out. A sac fly RBI from David Headley then pulled Southern Utah back within one, but South Dakota State got a fly ball to end the inning and eventually held on for an 8-7 victory.
SUU starter Kelsey Outram (3-8) took the loss after giving up six runs, only one of which was earned, during the first four innings. Senior pitcher Jesse Hartle closed out the game for the Thunderbirds, going five innings without allowing an earned run. Stephen Bougher (6-4) was able to pick up the win for the Jackrabbits despite the fact that he gave up seven runs on 11 hits in seven innings.
In the second game of the day it would be South Dakota State who struck first as the visitors put up five runs on six hits in the first inning. Southern Utah would respond however, holding the Jackrabbits scoreless over the next four frames while posting seven scores of their own to build a two-run lead.
Kline was back at it again in the second inning as he blasted his second homerun of the day over the left field wall to put SUU on the board. Jordan Zymola added an RBI triple in the frame to pull his team within two. Kline kept the rally going with a two-run RBI double in his next at bat and Tariq Staton scored a run with an infield single to put Southern Utah out in front. Another RBI for Romero in the bottom of the fourth inning would then see the T-Birds go up by two with the score at 7-5.
The Jackrabbits were able to pull within one in the top of the sixth after an RBI double from Beau Hanowski made the score 7-6. South Dakota State then came back with a two-out rally in the seventh as Daniel Marra drove an RBI single into centerfield to even the score at seven runs apiece.
The game would eventually surpass the regularly scheduled seven innings as neither team was able to take control. SDSU was in good position to take the lead in the top of the ninth after the Jacks loaded the bases with just one out. SUU reliever Kolby Rimer got a batter to ground into a six-four-three double play however to help the Thunderbirds get out of the inning without giving up the go ahead run.
The T-Birds then took advantage in the bottom half of the frame as Romero recorded a lead off single and eventually reached third after his attempted steal of second base saw a throw from the catcher skip into the outfield. In the next at-bat Chaisson Low drove a pinch-hit RBI single into right field to give Southern Utah the 8-7 win.
Rimer (1-2) ended up taking the win for the Thunderbirds after providing two-and-a-third innings of scoreless relief. SDSU senior pitcher Austin Busse (2-5) took the loss after giving up just one hit in two innings.
Marcus Romero had an impressive day at the plate, collecting seven hits in ten at-bats for four RBI. The senior outfielder also recorded a double, a triple and scored four runs. Kevin Kline also turned in a stellar performance posting six RBI on two homeruns and a double for a 1.100 slugging percentage. SDSU third baseman Daniel Marra led the Jackrabbits with four RBI, which included a two-run homerun in the first inning of the second game.
With the win the Thunderbirds (17-30) improve to 11-7 in conference play and have essentially punched their ticket to the Summit League Tournament. South Dakota State is now 4-12 in league play and 15-31-1 overall.