SDSU cruises past Thunderbirds
Sunday's Summit League baseball game between South Dakota State and Southern Utah will go in the books as a 17-1 Jackrabbit victory — for now.
The Thunderbirds played the final five innings at Erv Huether Field under protest, claiming a bat used by a Jackrabbit player was illegal, thereby putting the official outcome in question until a review by league officials.
Leading 3-1 and with the bases loaded with two outs in the third inning, Zach Briggs stroked a bases-clearing double to left-center field to put the Jackrabbits ahead 6-1. Southern Utah head coach David Eldredge then asked the umpires to check if Briggs' bat exceeded the allowable amount for pine tar. After a lengthy discussion, the umpires took Briggs' bat out of play but let play resume, which resulted in SUU protesting the game.
SDSU went on to score three more times in the third. Billy Stitz and Joel Blake delivered RBI singles, with Stitz later scoring on a wild pitch.
Southern Utah drew first blood in the contest as Mitchell Kauweloa homered to left field to lead off the second inning. The Jackrabbits came right back with a three-run home half of the second against Thunderbird starter Chase Rezac. Beau Hanowski gave SDSU the lead with a two-run double, and Briggs scored on a groundout.
The Jackrabbits continued the onslaught with a three-run fourth inning. Andrew Melton and Briggs hit back-to-back run-scoring doubles, followed by Stitz driving in his third run of the game with a single to left center.
SDSU starter Kolton Emery was in control throughout, surrendering only five hits in a complete-game effort as the game was called by the 10-run rule after seven innings. The freshman right-hander retired eight of the next nine hitters he faced after the Kauweloa home run and ended the game with four strikeouts as he improved to 4-1 on the season.
The Jackrabbits capped the scoring with five runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by a three-run homer by Jesse Sawyer.
Zach Rhodes was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles to lead SDSU's 17-hit attack. Briggs drove in four runs with his two doubles as the Jackrabbits tallied six two-base hits on the afternoon. Hanowski, Stitz and Melton also had two hits each.
Should the Jackrabbit victory be upheld, SDSU would improve to 23-11 overall and stay atop The Summit League with a 10-2 mark after taking three of the four games in the series. SUU would fall to 16-21 overall, 5-7 in league play.
SDSU resumes play Tuesday with a make-up game at Minnesota. First pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m. at Siebert Field on the U of M campus in Minneapolis.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 17, SOUTHERN UTAH 1
SUU 010 000 0 1-5-2
SDSU 036 305 X 17-17-1
SUU: Chase Rezac, Nick Newberry (3), Kevin Nay (5), Bryson Kenolio (6) and Taggart Lunceford. SDSU: Kolton Emery and and Zach Briggs, Nick Andrews.
W-Emery (4-1). L-Rezac (3-4). Save-none.
HR: SUU-Mitchell Kauweloa (3); SDSU-Jesse Sawyer (8).