Article written by Sam Goetzinger
After much confusion and many changes this past week regarding when and where the first home series of the year would be played for St. Cloud State baseball, it was finally decided a reverse site series would be played in Brandon, South Dakota against Sioux Falls to kick off the month of April. This series between the Huskies and Cougars was originally supposed to be played at Joe Faber field in St. Cloud but due to weather restrictions a site was in question. Talks that the three-game series would be moved to the campus of St. Johns was in the air, but after further consideration that fell through and then National Bank Field, home of the Brandon Valley Lynx just outside of Sioux Falls, was deemed the official site of SCSU’s first home game this season.
With overpowering wind gusts in the forecast for Sunday’s doubleheader the Huskies took to the field and showed why they have been one of the hottest teams in the conference in the past few weeks. Redshirt Junior Riley Ahern took the mound in game one and hurled a gem going the distance (CG, 3 H, 2 R, BB, 8 K’s). Ahern did give up two runs early in game one but settled in eventually retiring 12 Cougar batters in a row. The bats provided plenty of run support for SCSU enroot to an eight-run performance. Redshirt Junior Sam Riola (4-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR) swung the best bat in the first game making the field look small with the strong winds helping. Redshirt Sophomore John Nett (2-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI) also pieced together clutch at-bats to help the cardinal and black secure the victory. The Huskies took game one by convincing margin 8-2 over Sioux Falls.
The troubling conditions continued in game two helping Husky batters continue their offensive dominance. Redshirt Senior Ryan Duffy (3.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 K’s, 5 BB) got the start on the bump, but control was an issue forcing him out of the game. True Freshman Ethan Lanthier (3.1 IP, 4 BB, 8 K’s, R) came out of the bullpen and utilized his fastball to perfection shutting down the Cougars in the later innings. Riola (2-4, R, HR) continued his strong offensive stretch picking up his 10th homerun of the season and third of the doubleheader. Sophomore Tyler Schiller (2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR) also helped the Huskies by going yard to help secure the 8-3 win for SCSU in game two.
The final game of the series brought calm weather conditions to the flat landscape of Brandon, South Dakota. Game three was the opposite of the first two with the USF bats coming alive for the first time in the series. Redshirt Sophomore Jack Habeck (5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 6 K’s) started the game on the mound for SCSU and threw well but could not go the distance with the Cougars going for 10 runs in 4 innings through the middle frames. The Huskies unloaded for three homeruns in the contest, Riola (1-3, HR, BB) hammered his fourth of the weekend and 11th on the season. Redshirt Sophomore Tate Wallat (2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R) also notched a solo shot on the board with Senior Max Gamm doing the same over the right field fence. St. Cloud State rallied back for one run in the bottom of ninth, but it was not enough as the Huskies would fall in an offensive shootout 11-9 to wrap up the first home series of the year.
The Huskies will play their first true home series this weekend against the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears. The series is scheduled for April 9th and 10th at either Joe Faber or Dick Putz Field.