Jackrabbits blank Omaha twice
The South Dakota State pitching staff hurled two shutouts and the Jackrabbits found just enough offense to sweep a Summit League doubleheader from Omaha by scores of 1-0 and 3-0 Saturday afternoon at Erv Huether Field.
Chris Anderson and Talon jumper combined on a five-hitter in the opener, while the tandem of Chad Hodges and J.D. Moore teamed up for another five hitter in Game 2 for the Jackrabbits, who improved to 23-22 overall and 7-6 in league play. Moore recorded his sixth save of the season and set the SDSU career record with his 24th career save, breaking a tie with Trever Vermeuelen (23 saves from 2008-11).
Omaha fell to 22-19 overall, 7-8 in The Summit League.
SDSU scored the lone run of the opener in its final at-bat, rallying for a run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Pinch-hitter Michael Finocchiaro led off with a cue-shot double that spun just inside the third-base bag. After the next two batters flew out, Scott Splett lined a single to right-center that scored Zach Holt.
Anderson pitched the first 5 1/3 innings before leaving after being hit on the hand on a line-drive single by Tyler Splichal. The junior left-hander worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and also stranded two Maverick runners in each of the first and third innings. Anderson finished the game with three walks and three strikeouts.
Jumper retired all five batters he faced in picking up his second win of the season.
Omaha left-hander Steven Schoonover took the loss in a complete-game effort. He scattered eight hits, struck out two and did not walk a batter.
Splichal was the lone player in the game to record more than one hit, going 2-for-3.
The Jackrabbits carried the momentum into Game 2, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. Splett led off with a single, moved to second on a walk and scored on Matt Johnson’s single through the right side.
Omaha appeared on the verge of tying the game in the top of the sixth as Alex Schultz singled with one out and later advanced two bases to third on a failed pickoff attempt. Hodges, however, worked out of the jam by striking out cleanup hitter Brett Bass and then inducing a fly ball off the bat of Caleb Palensky to end the inning.
SDSU scored a pair of insurance runs without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the eighth. Eric Danforth drew a walk with one out and moved all the way to third when the throw to second base to get Danforth glanced off Palensky’s glove, allowing Danforth to advance to third. Reid Clary was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Sam Pack walked against new Maverick pitcher Sam Murphy to force in a run and a groundout by Cody Sharrow plated the second run of the frame.
Moore pitched a perfect ninth inning to complete the Jackrabbits’ first back-to-back shutouts since defeating North Dakota State in the title series of the 2013 Summit League Baseball Championship.
Hodges struck out three and walked two in eight strong innings as he improved to 6-4 on the season.
Omaha starter Marcus Ethen surrendered five hits, struck out four and walked two in four innings.
SDSU held an 6-5 advantage in hits. UNO’s Brett Bass was the lone player with two hits in the game.
The two teams are scheduled to complete their four-game series Sunday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.
Game 1: SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 1, OMAHA 0
UNO 000 000 0 0-5-0
SDSU 000 000 1 1-8-1
UNO: Steven Schoonover and Justin Threlkeld. SDSU: Chris Anderson, Talon Jumper (6) and Sam Pack.
W-Jumper (2-0). L-Schoonover (2-2). Save-none.
Game 2: SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 3, OMAHA 0
UNO 000 000 000 0-5-1
SDSU 100 000 02X 3-6-1
UNO: Marcus Ethen, Dylan Casey (5), Zach Eden (7), Sam Murphy (8) and Collin Leif, Justin Threlkeld (8). SDSU: Chad Hodges, J.D. Moore (9) and Reid Clary.
W-Hodges (6-4). L-Ethen (3-3). Save-Moore (6).