For the second time in a week, Daniel Telford delivered a pinch-hit game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the South Dakota State University baseball team a Summit League victory. Friday afternoon, Telford's single up the middle scored Eric Cain and propelled the Jackrabbits to a back-and-forth 4-3 victory in the opening game of a crucial four-game series against North Dakota State at Erv Huether Field.
With their 25th victory in their last 28 games, SDSU improved to 28-12 overall and maintained at least a two-game lead in the league standings over Oral Roberts with a 14-3 mark. The Bison, who entered the day in third place in The Summit League, dropped to 16-22 overall and 10-6 in league play.
The Jackrabbits scored an unearned run without the benefit of a hit to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Andrew Phelan led off the inning by reaching on an error, moved to second on a walk and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Zach Briggs. Phelan later scored on a groundout off the bat of Daniel Marra.
NDSU tied the game in the top of the third on a solo home run by Wes Satzinger, but the Jackrabbits regained the lead in the home half of the inning. Three straight singles to right field by Billy Stitz, Joel Blake and Zach Rhodes loaded the bases. The go-ahead run scored when Cain was hit by a pitch, but Bison starter Colby Tognetti prevented further damage by inducing a double play and flyout to end the inning.
SDSU also loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth innings and failed to score. The Jackrabbits stranded 12 runners on base in the game.
The Bison knotted the game with a two-out rally in the top of the fourth. Tim Colwell singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Max Casper's single up the middle.
Once again, the Jackrabbits took the lead back with an unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Cain in the sixth inning.
NDSU tied the game for the third and final time with a run in the top of the eighth against the Jackrabbit bullpen. Blake Turbak led off the frame against Erik DeJong with a single to left field and advanced to second on an errant throw back to the infield. Turbak advanced to third on a bunt and scored when Zach Heidmann doubled for the second time in the game with a shot to the right-center gap. SDSU closer Trever Vermeulen recorded the final two outs of the inning via the strikeout to end the Bison threat in the eighth and set NDSU down in order in the ninth.
The Jackrabbits' game-winning rally started with one out in the ninth. Cain reached on an infield single to the hole at shortstop and moved to second when Phelan's slow roller to shortstop was booted for the fourth Bison error of the game. After Jesse Sawyer flew out to right field, Telford, who lifted SDSU to doubleheader sweep of Oakland on April 30 with a game-winning hit, swung at the first pitch and placed the ball just out of the reach of the second baseman and into center field to plate Cain.
Vermeulen improved to 2-2 on the season with his scoreless relief effort. Jackrabbit starter Stephen Bougher worked the first six innings and struck out six, while surrendering nine hits and no walks.
Tognetti was the tough-luck loser in a complete-game effort in which he threw 141 pitches. Only one of the four runs the right-hander allowed was earned as he fell to 3-4 on the season. Tognetti walked three and struck out one.
SDSU held a 12-11 advantage in hits. Rhodes led the Jackrabbits with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate, while Blake added a pair of hits. Turbak was 3-for-4 to lead NDSU.
The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday, starting at noon.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 4, NORTH DAKOTA STATE 3
NDSU 001 100 010 3-11-4
SDSU 011 001 001 4-12-1
NDSU: Colby Tognetti and Tyler Steen. SDSU: Stephen Bougher, Erik DeJong (7), Trever Vermeulen (8) and Zach Briggs.
W-Vermeulen (2-2). L-Tognetti (3-4). Save-none.
HR: NDSU-Wes Satzinger (2).