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Blue Hawks exceptional performance ends on doorsteps of NSAA conference championship

DSU falls shy of clinching NSAA championship appearance despite extraordinary effort over four games

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baseball laying in the Astoria field at the Dakota Community ball park.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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FOREST CITY, I.A. — Dickinson State was a force to be reckoned with at the North Star Athletic Association conference tournament, taking third place in the double elimination formatted competition to the end the season.

Ultimately the Blue Hawks would fall short of a championship appearance as their season came to an end at the bats of Dakota State in the final loser’s out game on Monday.

DSU traveled to Forest City, Iowa in high spirits and started off the tourney with a breakout performance. They remained untarnished after the first two days, facing Mayville State and Viterbo. The Blue Hawks would then suffer back-to-back losses against NSAA’s top two teams in the 2021-22 standings in Bellevue and Dakota State.

“I felt like our overall performance was good,” DSU head coach Michael Dahl said. “We started the tournament with two great games, playing really well in all aspects of the game. The last two games we played two teams that were both playing really well and it just wasn’t our day.”

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Dickinson State fell one game short of a championship appearance after setting the tournament on fire with performances against Viterbo and Mayville State (File Image / The Dickinson Press)

The No.3 seeded Dickinson State would push past the opening rounds in quick succession, defeating No. 6 Mayville State with three home runs in a 7-3 contest.

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The Blue Hawks success continued on Saturday, staying in the winners bracket after nearly shutting out No.7 Viterbo in a 10-1 ball game.

Their biggest challenge came Sunday, when they faced conference powerhouse in No. 1 Bellevue University, who were ranked seventh in the most recent NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 national poll. The highly touted Bruins were too much to bear for the Blue Hawks who were shutout in a 12-0 defeat.

Dickinson State was a game away from playing in the championship, but had to face a foe that was equally determined of making a championship appearance in Dakota State.

After coming up short in their opening game, No.2 Dakota State survived through the loser’s bracket to meet the Blue Hawks for a windy day ball game. It was a heated battle that was not decided until a ninth inning walk-off.

The Spartans hitters came out strong early with a home run at the bottom of the first for a 1-0 lead. The Blue Hawks would contribute two bombs of their own courtesy of sophomore Cade Ostenson and junior Derrick Calvillo.

Dickinson State tied the game 4-4 at the top of the eighth, but would not be able to put any runners past second base after that point. In the final frame of the final inning, Dakota State would ground to left field for a walk off RBI single with the winning run scored. The final score would be 5-4.

Dahl had only appreciation for his team’s effort and the impact they have made in the limited time the young program has had.

“I made sure to tell the guys that I was very proud of them and what they have accomplished as a second year program,” Dahl said. “I also thanked our three seniors for what they have done to help this program grow and wishing them many successes after college. The season didn’t end like we wanted it to but we can use this defeat to help grow our program and use it for fuel to improve next year so we do not get this feeling again.”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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