Blue Hawks baseball drops season-opening doubleheader

Dickinson State had a tough test from the very beginning of its spring season.In the Blue Hawks' home opener of the calendar year, NCAA Division II University of Minnesota-Crookston came in and scored runs in bunches to beat DSU 7-4 and 10-9 in 1...

2373165+0306 DSU baseball web.jpg
Dickinson State senior second baseman Jacob Hignite, left, fields the baseball while University of Minnesota-Crookston freshman Reed Hjelle tries to steal second Saturday at Southside Ballpack and Astoria Field. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)

Dickinson State had a tough test from the very beginning of its spring season.
In the Blue Hawks’ home opener of the calendar year, NCAA Division II University of Minnesota-Crookston came in and scored runs in bunches to beat DSU 7-4 and 10-9 in 10 innings in a doubleheader Saturday at Southside Ballpark and Astoria Field.
That second game, from the Blue Hawks’ perspective, was highlighted by senior second baseman Jacob Hignite’s three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie it at 9-9 and send the game to extras.
“Hit a ball hard somewhere and just make something happen,” Hignite said of what was running through his mind. “Just hit that ball as hard as you can, anywhere you can. Just keep the game going.”
After Hignite’s shot, Crookston scored off the bat of junior leftfielder Patrick Higgins to give his team the win.
Crookston only scored in four other innings in its two wins. Golden Eagles head coach Steve Gust said that scoring was a testament to his team.

“It’s about quality at-bats,” Gust said. “We had some good things mixed in there with some big hits and a couple walks and a couple errors too. Big innings come when you can bunch those together.”
DSU sophomore pitcher Travis Rowe had a tough time with the Golden Eagles’ lineup in the second game. Rowe pitched a quick three outs in the first and then had a one-run cushion after a Hignite hit drove in senior leftfielder Jake Young.
Then, after getting two outs, Rowe allowed four runs in the second inning. He then surrendered two more scores in the third before being pulled in favor of junior Taylor Dantini, who gave up two more runs before closing out the third frame with Crookston ahead 8-1.
“I’ve seen Travis and Josh (Schuller) do better than that,” Blue Hawks senior right fielder Tyler Czech said. “We saw them at their worst, and we still made it a ball game. So that just shows you the character and drive we have within the team. … When they’re at their best day, it’s going to be scary in my opinion.”
Nonetheless, DSU showed some fight immediately after in the third with a double from sophomore first baseman Jacob Cuch that drove in senior third baseman Sagan Osborne and a Hignite single to center that scored Cuch.
In the fifth, Higgins hit a sacrifice fly and Cuch drove in Young to exchange runs. Then DSU closed the gap in the sixth after a Czech triple, and Austin Tennant drove him home.
Hignite hit a solo shot to left-center field to close the gap to just three runs in the eighth to bring it to 9-6.
Then, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Hignite cranked out the three-run homer that carried over the same spot to send the second game to extra innings.
“I’ve said it all along: We’ve got guys that can swing it pretty well,” DSU head coach Jason Watson said. “Wind played a factor, but you play in North Dakota. It’s going to be windy.”
In the first game, Schuller started out strong for the Blue Hawks (5-7), keeping Crookston scoreless for the first four innings. However, Schuller gave up six runs in the fifth inning before exiting the game having given up four hits while striking out five and walking four.
In the bottom of that fifth inning, DSU brought in a run and then scored three in the ninth, but it was too much to overcome the seven-run fifth - which was the only frame the Golden Eagles would need to score.
Czech was 2 for 3 from the plate including a home run with two RBI and two runs scored, while Hignite was 1 for 4 in the game with an RBI and a run scored. Sophomore shortstop Dylan Skabo was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
However, no other DSU played had more than one hit.
“It’s opening day in front of your home crowd,” Hignite said. “You want to do so good, and it gets built up in your mind that you’ve got to do good. I think that’s what got the better of us today.”
The Blue Hawks have another shot at Crookston with a second doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. today at Southside Ballpark and Astoria Field, and Watson hopes his club can learn from the first pair of games.
“The difference today was pitching and defense,” Watson said. “You’ve got to finish an inning. Walks, hit by pitches, that’s what cost us these games. We can’t have that. We’ve got to clean it up.”

University of Minnesota-Crookston 7, Dickinson State 4
UMC 000 070 00 - 7 7 1
DSU 000 010 03 - 4 8 1
UMC: Nolan Wahlberg and Colton Haight.
DSU: Josh Schuller, Jonathan Koessl (5) and Gabriel Lizarraga (6) and Chad Mackay.
W- Wahlberg. L- Schuller. HR- UMC, Reed Hjelle. DSU. Tyler Czech.
Highlights: UMC, Colton Haight 2 for 2, run, 2 RBI; Reed Hjelle 1 for 3, run, 2 RBI. DSU, Czech, 2 for 3, run, 2 RBI; Dylan Skabo, 2 for 4, 1 RBI; Austin Tennant, 1 for 1, run; Jeff Vancleave 1 for 2; Jake Hignite, 1 for 4, run, RBI.

University of Minnesota-Crookston 10, Dickinson State 9 (10)
UMC 044 010 000 1 - 10 10 1
DSU 102 011 013 0 - 9 15 4
UMC: Trevor Buttermore, Zac Carrillo (7) and Luke Thoma (10) and Zach Frazier.
DSU: Travis Rowe, Taylor Dantini (3) and Jason Thibault (6) and Austin Tennant.
W - Thoma. L - Thibault. HR- DSU, Jake Hignite 2.
Highlights: UMC: Reed Hjelle 2 for 4, 2; Colton Haight 2 for 5, 1 R; Kenny Perez 1 for 1, 1 RBI; Patrick Higgins 1-3, 2 R, 3 RBI. DSU: Sagan Osborne 3 for 4, 2 R; Jake Hignite 3 for 4, 1 R, 6 RBI; Jake Young 2 for 5, 3 R; Jacob Cuch 2 for 5, 1 R, 2 RBI. Jake Hignite 3 for 4, 1 R, 6 RBI; Jake Young 2 for 5, 3 R; Jacob Cuch 2 for 5, 1 R, 2 RBI.

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