Jackrabbit baseball splits doubleheader with Western Illinois

SIOUX FALLS – South Dakota State held off Western Illinois in the opener, but let a lead get away late in the nightcap as the two teams closed out their three-game weekend series by splitting a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Sioux Falls Stadium.

The Jackrabbits claimed the opener, 11-9, before WIU rallied for a 7-6, 10-inning victory in Game 2. SDSU ended the day 18-16 overall and 11-7 in the Summit League, while the Leathernecks moved to 15-22 overall and 9-9 in league play.

Game 1: South Dakota State 11, Western Illinois 9
The Jackrabbits put together a balanced offensive attack, pounding out 13 hits that included five extra-base hits.

Trailing 1-0, Josh Falk put SDSU out front for good in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run double to right-center that scored both Drew Beazley and Nick Smith.

Smith plated runs with groundouts in both the second and fourth innings around a solo home run by Logan Holtz to lead off the fourth as SDSU built its lead to 5-2 against Western Illinois starter Javin Drake.

Freshman Luke Ira, who was 3-for-3, doubled in a pair of runs in the fifth and the Jackrabbits answered a two-run top of the sixth by Western Illinois with a four-run outburst in the home half of the frame to lead 11-4. Falk, who was 3-for-5 with four runs batted in, launched his team-leading seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot over the wall in left field, while Holtz and Ira each posted run-scoring singles. Holtz was 3-for-4 and scored four times.

Western Illinois catcher C.J. Schaeffer Jr. fueled the Leathernecks' comeback attempt with home runs in consecutive at-bats in the late innings. He connected on a three-run shot in the seventh and added a two-run blast in the eighth to pull WIU to within 11-9.

Alex Marro retired the side in order in the top of the ninth to secure the save. Jackrabbit starter Ryan Froom returned to the win column after completing six innings in which he struck out three, walked four and surrendered four runs on five hits.

Game 2: Western Illinois 7, South Dakota State 6 (10 inn.)
The Leathernecks scored three times in the ninth and added an unearned run in the top of the 10th to steal the series finale by a run.

The WIU comeback came after the Jackrabbits broke a 3-all tie by scoring three times in the bottom of the eighth. Deion Thompson started the game-tying rally with a double to left and Diego Munoz followed with a two-run homer to left off Drew Beazley to pull the Leathernecks within 6-5.

Marro then entered in search of his second save of the doubleheader, but Drue Galassi and Schaefer each singled with one out. SDSU had a chance to turn a game-ending double play, but could only record one out before Steve McShane lined a single off Marro that brought in Galassi with the tying run.

In the 10th, Thompson singled with one out and advanced all the way to third on an errant pickoff attempt at first base. Thompson slid under the tag on a play at the plate after Munoz lofted a fly to right field for the winning run.

Alex Dorethy, who came on in relief for Western Illinois in the ninth, struck out the side in the 10th to close out the win.

For the first time in the series, SDSU scored first by pushing a run across in the fourth. Ira led off with a single, moved to second on an error and scored on a single to right by Falk.

Schaeffer tied the game in the top of the sixth with his third home run of the twinbill, leading off the top of the sixth with a solo blast to left. The Leathernecks took a 3-1 lead later in the inning against Jackrabbit starter Nic McCay on a two-run single by Grant Hammant.

Holtz continued his hot hitting, winning a long at-bat in the bottom of the sixth by lining a two-run single up the middle to tie the game at 3-all.

SDSU took a momentary 6-3 lead with three runs in the eighth. Pinch-runner Jamie Berg scored the first run on a balk and Ira squeezed in a run before Gus Steiger lined a single to left to score Smith.

Falk and Braeden Brown each recorded three of SDSU's 11 hits. McShane led the Leathernecks' 14-hit effort by going 3-for-5.

The Jackrabbits will attempt to play their first true home game of the season as they are slated to host the University of Sioux Falls Tuesday afternoon at Erv Huether Field. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.

The Jackrabbits lead the all-time series, 36-25, and claimed the regular season series by a 4-2 count
SDSU fell to 1-2 in extra-inning games this season
Marro's save in the opener was his first of the season
Ira posted his team-leading 14th multi-hit game in the opener
Steiger has reached base safely in 29 consecutive games
Falk recorded his second four-RBI game of the season in Game 1 (Feb. 15 vs. UT Martin) as he finished the twinbill 6-for-11 at the plate
Holtz was 5-for-8 in the doubleheader