May 21, 2012 at 8:39 am
MANKATO, MN (SCSU) – It all came down to a play at the plate in the NCAA Central Region Championship game, as St. Cloud State University dropped a back-and-forth 5-4 game to Minnesota State University Mankato Sunday afternoon at Franklin Rodgers Park.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the ninth inning, MSU's Mike Eckhart drove the ball to center field with the bases loaded to score Matt Kuchenbecker who beat a good throw from junior Brian Hansen (Cold Spring) to score the winning run and end the Huskies' season with a 48-14 overall record.
Both starters did not get a decision in the game as junior Chris Kubitz (Shakopee) took the loss after giving up one run in 3.1 innings and did not allow a hit to the Mavericks (48-10) who scored three of five runs without a hit in the game.
Bryce Bellin got the win for MSU after giving up just one hit in three scorelss innings before Mahlon Zimmermann got a save after pitching a scoreless ninth.
Hansen got the Huskies on the board in a hurry with a two-run shot over the fence in right center in the bottom of the first for his second home run of the tournament and 10th.
The Mavericks tied the game up in the second after a walk and wild pitch with the bases loaded after MSU had three singles to start the inning.
The Huskies answered with a run of their own as junior Sean Borman (Minnetonka) hit a roller up the middle for a RBI single to score freshman Mike Jurgella (Plover, Wis.) to make it a 3-3 game.
Minnesota State then scored a run without a hit in the fourth. Cory Glieden was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a ground ball, got to third on a ball in the dirt and scored as the throw to third went into left field to make it 4-3.
Senior Joey Benke (Roseau) then tied the game again with a RBI double to the gap in left center to score sophomore Garrett Fischer (New Ulm) who led the inning off with a double of his own.
Senior Logan Birr (St. Cloud) was knocked out of the game in the sixth as he loaded the bases before Kubitz came in and got a big strikeout to get out of the jam.
Birr gave up three earned runs on eight hits in his final collegiate outing, while striking out four in 5.2 innings of work in a no-decision.
Benke finished his career with a 2-for-4 day at the plate that included two doubles and a RBI, while Hansen went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run.
Jurgella, freshman Max Ditty (Maple Grove), Fischer, Hansen and junior Scott Lieser (Browerville) were named to the NCAA Central All-Tournament Team.