CEDAR CITY, Utah - Eric Cain and Aaron Machbitz each hit three-run home runs to help lead South Dakota State to an 11-9 victory over Southern Utah in the final game of a four-game Summit League baseball series Saturday afternoon.
In earning a split of the series, the Jackrabbits, who were eliminated from postseason contention on Friday, improved to 16-31-1 overall and 5-12 in league play. SUU dropped to 17-31 overall and 11-8 in The Summit League.
Cain's three-run blast capped a four-run third inning for the Jackrabbits, who received a run-scoring single from Zach Rhodes earlier in the frame.
After the Thunderbirds got on the board with a run in the home half of the third, SDSU countered in the top of the fourth on a run-scoring double by Beau Hanowski. SUU pulled to within 5-3 in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Marcus Romero and a double by Chase Rezac.
SDSU appeared to break the game open in the seventh, scoring five times. Eric Danforth singled in Rhodes with the first run of the inning before Machbitz homered to center field to chase Thunderbird starter Joe Karlik. SDSU added a run against the SUU bullpen later in the inning as Hanowski notched a run-scoring single.
Southern Utah answered with six runs of its own in the bottom of the seventh to get back to within a run at 10-9. Rezac hit a three-run home run to left that knocked out Jackrabbit starter Adam Bray, and David Ricker added a two-run single before the final run of the frame scored on a groundout.
Jackrabbit closer J.D. Moore struck out David Headley to end the seventh inning, then allowed only one baserunner the rest of the way to earn his fourth save of the season.
Hanowski, who was 3-for-6 with three RBI, plated pinch-runner Layne Somsen with an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Machbitz ended the game 4-for-5, while Andrew Melton also added three hits for the Jackrabbits, who out-hit SUU, 17-12.
Rezac was 3-for-4 to lead the Thunderbirds.
SDSU will close out the season by hosting Western Illinois in a four-game series May 17-19 at Erv Huether Field.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 11, SOUTHERN UTAH 9
SDSU 004 100 501 11-17-1
SUU 001 020 600 9-12-1
SDSU: Adam Bray, Deon Entringer (7), J.D. Moore (7) and Nick Andrews, Zach Briggs. SUU: Joe Karlik, Andy Harvey, D.J. Andrade and Taggart Lunceford.
W-Bray (3-3). L-Karlik (2-3). Save-Moore (4).
HR: SDSU-Eric Cain (2), Aaron Machbitz (4); SUU-Chase Rezac (4).