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Blue Hawks have brutal outing against Vikings

Dickinson State give up over 50 runs in matchups against Vikings.

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Despite a brutal 3-1 outing against Valley City, Dickinson State hopes to get back on track against Presentation College on Wednesday. (File Image/The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson State University came to Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark hoping to feed off the hot spring weather against Valley City with hot batting and pitching in its first official games of NSAA conference play.

Instead, the Blue Hawks were stopped cold in their tracks, while Valley City went on a tear that was too much to overcome.

In four games, Dickinson State (4-16) not only lost the series 3-1, but allowed the Vikings (12-17) to score over 50 runs within the four games. The Blue Hawks only combined a total of 18.

For Blue Hawks Head Coach Michael Dahl, the weekend could only be described as a frustrating experience, and one he hopes to never see agai, particularly on the Blue Hawks’ home field.

“You give up 50+ runs in three games, you’re never going to win, it doesn’t matter how many runs you score,” he said. “It just seemed like everything was finding the barrel so it was frustrating … they didn’t miss, it was pretty astronomical, pretty defeating.”

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The Blue Hawks previously battled the Vikings at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark earlier this season, resulting in a 1-1 split. Following that outcome and with it being the start of conference play, both the fans and Blue Hawks were excited to see how the team would do in its four game series with the Vikings.

While the Blue Hawks hoped to notch at least a .500 outcome, the Vikings were aggressive and feasted on the Blue Hawks, devouring their chances of producing consistent offense and made defense for the Blue Hawks highly difficult.

As a result, the Blue Hawks fell in the first game 16-5, not scoring their first run until the bottom of the sixth inning, and went through three pitchers. The devastation carried into game two with the Vikings holding a 10-3 lead at the end of the the third inning, eventually pulling out a 20-5 win over Dickinson State.

"Any time you give the teams extra outs that's going to hurt you,” Dahl said. “Then offensively we just start slow and then great pitchers make pitches and we don’t execute trying to hit to the outfield. Just overall, not a very good day one.”

After back-to-back blowout losses, Dahl was less sympathetic with his players going into day two of playing Valley City and relied on his players to pull themselves out of the rut while giving more of a tough love approach.

"We talked about leadership, we talked about being accountable as a team and accountable as teammates and coaches, individuals, we just basically said that ‘hey, this is not the way that we play, and losing is not acceptable in this program and if you’re not on board with that then you’re in the wrong program, essentially,” he said.

The outcome to the approach was somewhat of a repeat in day one’s outcomes with Dickinson State falling 14-3. The Blue Hawks seemed to be keeping it a game at first, only trailing 4-2 at the end of the second inning but then gave up 10 consecutive runs before scoring its own final run in the bottom of the seventh.

Following three disappointing outcomes, Dahl opted to let his team dwell on the three losses as they prepared for game four.

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“I did not talk a lot day two, I really kind of sat back and tried, obviously coach the game, but from the standpoint of trying to prep them up and get them going, I was not a cheerleader on day two, I wanted to see what they would do as a team and what leaders would step up,” he said.

Dahl added, “after game three when we get slaughtered again, it’s just kind of like we got nowhere else to go, our backs are completely against the wall. I didn’t even go out there between the games to talk to them, I let them go out there and figure it out as a team.”

With the series officially out of grasp, the Blue Hawks turned its focus to just pulling out at least one win against the Vikings.

Game four started with Valley City scoring three runs in the top of the first inning, giving an indication of another tough game for Dickinson State. However, with strong pitching by Jacob Scully, who pitched all seven innings and recorded 10 strikeouts on 100 pitches thrown, only allowing seven hits and four runs, the Blue Hawks were able to come back and tie the game at four in the bottom of the fourth.

Dickinson State would eventually score its fifth run in the bottom of the fifth to end the game 5-4, ending the low weekend on a high note.

After a tough weekend of baseball, Dahl was critical of his team’s performance with the team now 1-3 in conference play.

“It’s up to the kids, we put the lineup together as coaches, but the kids have to go out and play and I think they started to figure that out. Like, ‘you know what, this is us. We have to do better,'” he said.

With Dickinson State now preparing to play a double header on Wednesday against Presentation College, the NSAA conference will have its eyes on Dickinson State and how the team will respond in the double-header.

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Dahl believes this upcoming match will prove how the team is going to progress throughout the remainder of the season.

“Wednesday we need to show up, we need to be focused, need to have intensity, need to have that bulldog mentality, chip on our shoulder,” he said. “It’s not just roll out of bed and get to the ball field and you’re going to win two games, that is not going to happen in our conference. Our preparation has to continue to get better as we go throughout this year and we talked about it after day one, our preparation just has to be better.”

First pitch with Dickinson State vs. Presentation College is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. with the second game to follow shortly after game one concludes.

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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