May 18, 2012 at 8:09 am
MANKATO, MN (SCSU) - Clutch hitting paid off for the nationally ranked St. Cloud State University baseball team in a 12-7 win over Winona State University in the first round of the NCAA Central Region tournament Thursday afternoon at Franklin Rodgers Park.
With the game tied at 7-7 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the No. 2 seed Huskies (46-12) scored five runs on two crucial hits from junior Brian Hansen (Cold Spring) and freshman Mike Jurgella (Plover, Wis.) to down the No. 5 seed Warriors (29-21).
With one out and runners on the corners, Hansen sent a 0-2 fastball down the right field line to drive in the game-winning run, before Jurgella cleared the bases on the first pitch of his at-bat with a double down the left field line to make it 11-7 before scoring on a bunt from junior Steve Rindelaub (St. Cloud).
The Warriors got on the board right away in a game that both teams combined for 28 hits, with three two-out runs in the top of the first on two hits before the Huskies responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Junior Phil Imholte (St. Cloud) led the inning off with a single and went to third on a double from sophomore Garrett Fischer (New Ulm).
Senior Joey Benke (Roseau) then drove in his 53rd RBI of the season with a ground ball to second base before junior Sean Borman (Minnetonka) matched him with his 53rd RBI to make it 3-2 heading into the second.
Fischer then tied the game with a single to center to score senior Joe Peters (Apple Valley) from second before Imholte scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch to make it 4-3 after two innings.
Winona State tied the game up quickly at 4-4 with two doubles in the third, as Seth McMullen drove in his second run of the day with a double to left field.
After tying the game, senior Logan Birr (St. Cloud) left the game after giving up four runs on five hits in three innings. He struck out three and walked three as junior Shawn Riesgraf (Chaska) came in to replace Birr.
The Huskies helped Riesgraf after a clean fourth inning with two runs after Benke drove in his 54th RBI with a bases loaded single up the middle before Fischer scored from second on a throw down to second that made its way to the outfield to make it 6-4 after four.
Borman added another run with his team-leading 11th home run of the season and tied Benke again with his 54th RBI in the fifth to extend the lead to 7-4.
Then after three scoreless innings, Winona got on Riesgraf for two runs in the seventh inning on three singles up the middle to cut the lead to 7-6.
The Warriors quickly tied it up in the eighth with a Nate Van Roekel lead off solo home run to left field to end Riesgraf's day on the mound.
Junior Chris Kubitz (Shakopee) then came in with a runner on and no outs in the eighth and got out of a jam with two strike outs to head to the bottom of the eighth tied 7-7 where the Huskies closed the door with a five-run inning.
Kubitz got his first win of the season after pitching two scoreless innings to end the game as he struck out three of 10 batters faced.
The Huskies will now play New Mexico Highlands at 7:00 p.m. Friday night in game seven of the tournament after they beat Mesa State 2-0 in the first game of the tournament.