"We were a little hit and miss overall, but played very well against some very tough opponents," reported Spartan Head Coach Cody Hughes.
After losing their first game on Saturday, March 9, 12-1 to Owens Community College in 5 innings, M State bounced back to beat Owens 7-1 in their second game, riding a 5-run first inning to victory.
On Sunday, March 10, they beat Niagara County Community College 9-2 in the first game of their double header and then lost the nightcap, 10-3. Jake Dykhoff struck out eight batters in a complete game win in game one. Rory Drewes had a pair of doubles and two runs batted in, Casey Peterson had a 2-run double and Harry Samuelson also picked up two RBI to lead the Spartans at the plate.
M State lost an 11-1 5-inning decision to Niagara on Monday, March 11, and then rebounded with a 10-6 win over Minnesota West from Worthington. The Spartans had eleven hits in the game, highlighted by a 3-for-4 day by Austin Oetter. Dykhoff was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and three runs batted in, and Matt Pietsch drove in 3 runs with a single and two sacrifice flies. Eric Salvesen drew two walks, delivered a base hit and scored twice.
The Spartans came up with a pair of runs in the sixth inning of their game on Tuesday, March 12, and got great pitching on the way to a 2-1 victory over Vermilion Community College from Ely. Oetter had a pair of hits and a run batted in, and Will Magnusson drove in a run with a single. Braden Thompson started on the mound and threw three innings of scoreless ball, striking out two while walking none. Parker Dierks(2IP, 1H, 1ER, 3BB), Chandler Gramm (1IP, 1K) and Skylar Mursu (1IP, 0H, 0R) pitched effectively in relief with Gramm earning the win and Mursu the save.
The Spartans had a pair of 5-run innings in their 12-2 win over SUNY Adirondack on Thursday, March 14. Devin Bush (3-4, HR, 4RBI, 2R), Casey Peterson (3-5, 2RBI), Cody Arlt (2-4, RBI, R, SF), Matt Pietsch (2-3, 2B, 2R), and Eric Salvesen (1-3, BB, 2RBI, 2R) led the 14-hit attack for the Spartans. Winning pitcher Levi Arnold (6IP, 6H, 0ER, 1BB, 5K) looked good on the mound and Nick Ludwig (1IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB) finished up.
Dykhoff was untouchable in his second start of the week, tossing a no-hitter against Erie Community College on Friday, March 15. Dykhoff struck out 14 batters and did not issue a walk in his seven innings of work. Offensively, Pietsch drove in four runs, Arlt knocked in two and Peterson was 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Drewes also added a pair of hits, including a double. Their final game, against Century College, was a 15-5 loss. Ryan Schmitz (2-3, 3RBI, 2B) led the Spartans at the plate. Samuelson and Oetter each drove in a run.
Coach Hughes provided the following evaluations of the trip, covering all aspects of the game.
Pitching – Our pitching staff is mostly made up of freshman this year. We are led by sophomores Levi Arnold and Skylar Mursu and they are backed up by some very talented freshmen from the area Eric Salvesen (Fergus Falls), Jake Dykhoff (Wadena), Matt Hagen (Fargo), and Mitch Porter (Breckinridge). The trip taught us a lot of valuable lessons and gave our freshmen a chance to step into some tough spots and produce. We played 3 games against Niagara County CC, the #3 team in the country, and in those games only 1 sophomore pitched. This was a great way to get our freshman experience right out of the gate. Jake Dykhoff threw won his first game against Niagara early in the week striking out 8 and then came back later and threw a perfect game (76 pitches) with 14 strikeouts against Erie CC. Eric Salvesen and Levi Arnold also got 1 win a piece giving us a lot of quality innings and saving our arms."
Hitting – We had a good mix of freshmen and sophomores that really got a chance to shine and face some top level pitching. In 10 games we faced 3 pitchers throwing under 82 mph. This was some of the best competition we have played in a few years but I thought it was extremely beneficial and we had a few guys step up for us and produce. Rory Drewes (Frazee) and Casey Peterson (Parker's Prairie) were first and second in almost every major category. Rory is hitting .538 and Casey is hitting .455 with 5 RBI. Austin Oetter from Omaha, NE is a freshmen who is on a roll right now too, he is hitting .467 with 3 RBI. We had some games where we struggled and didn't look as sharp as we like but we always seemed to come back and improve by the very next game. It is fun to watch as the team grows.
Fielding – Our fielding has been hit or miss. We had 15 errors in 10 games but we also turned 6 double plays. Fielding is one of the biggest things that needs to be reliable. If you can't field the ball you are going to lose a lot of games. We had flashes of what we can be but I don't think we are quite there yet. I think that is a good thing for us because it means we aren't playing our best ball yet.
Overall – This year we faced some of the toughest competition I have seen us play in a very long time. Every day was another good team with really good pitching and very good hitting. Our hitters and pitchers didn't get a day off and they seemed to thrive under that. We came out with a winning record but the guys still see the areas where they need to improve. I think our team has a lot of potential moving forward and has the opportunity to make this a special year.
The Spartans are scheduled to play games against Dawson County CC in Glendive, Montana on Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24.
Courtesy of Craig Olson Sports