Mound presence: Dickinson State will rely on solid pitching staff heading into tournament

If defense wins championships, a solid pitching staff has to be in that conversation as well. Pitching is one area where the Dickinson State baseball team has felt very comfortable. Entering the Frontier-Independent Conference Tournament with a f...

Bobby King

If defense wins championships, a solid pitching staff has to be in that conversation as well.

Pitching is one area where the Dickinson State baseball team has felt very comfortable.

Entering the Frontier-Independent Conference Tournament with a first-round matchup against Jamestown College at 1:30 p.m. today, the Blue Hawks have a team earned-run average of 4.45.

"Even though there is seeding, everyone is 0-0," DSU senior Tanner Newman said. "You have your season records, but that doesn't really mean much. We kind of know what to expect."

DSU's four pitchers who have received the most number of starts are Newman, senior Bobby King, junior Joey Hendricks and sophomore Nick Kearley. The four have a combined record of 14-9 in 31 starts this season. The Blue Hawks have also looked to Eric Seiler and Jeff VanCleave.


"They've really given us opportunities to be in ballgames," DSU head coach Jason Watson said. "Everybody, for the most part, has come in and put us in a good position to be able to win ballgames. Across the board, all of our pitchers have pitched pretty well. Here and there they have struggled -- but everybody does from time to time -- but their ability to come back after they have struggled is good."

Newman has been lights out the last month of the season, compiling a 4-0 record in his last four starts with three shutouts in that span. The senior from Bozeman, Mont., has the lowest ERA from a starting pitcher at 2.44, while Seiler has a 3.54.

During Newman's span of four straight wins, the following starter has also won.

"It helps to see that our other pitchers are doing well," Newman said. "When you see everybody else doing well against team's that can hit -- like Mayville -- it gives you a little confidence going in."

However, in the team's last six-game homestand, DSU has fallen on tough times. The Blue Hawks went 1-5 to close out the regular season. Before the 1-5 stretch, DSU had won eight consecutive games.

King is the only pitcher to collect a win in the last six games. He pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out a season-high 10 during a 10-3 win against Mayville State.

"I felt good about all my pitches and had some really good defensive plays behind me," King said. "Ryan (Risse) does a really good job behind the plate calling games. He helped me keep my emotions in check and focus up on every batter."

Despite dropping five of the last six games, the Blue Hawks were within striking distance every time. DSU lost those five games by an average of 2.4 runs.


"We didn't have the best luck pulling out wins, but in the six games recently against Jamestown and Mayville, we felt we were right there in every game," King said. "One or two different players here and there could have resulted in wins."

Not only have the starters pitched some important innings but relievers Matt Burwell, Chas Allen, Ian Anderson and Brock Murphy all made an impact throughout the season. Allen leads the relievers with 19 innings pitched.

To go along with the solid pitching up and down the lineup, the Blue Hawks have a fielding percentage of .952.

"I'm very confident in my defense," King said. "You can never have too much defense and I couldn't ask any more of what they do. They do a great job."

Hitting for

power, average

Throughout DSU's season of compiling a 25-17 record, the Blue Hawks have been steady at the plate with an overall batting average of .290. They average nearly six runs per game.

Jordan Tescher, who is in his first year at DSU after transferring from Jamestown, leads the team with a .412 average and has a team-high 31 RBIs to go with three home runs and six doubles. Tescher has been on a power tear as of late, hitting three home runs in his last six games.


"I know that we didn't tip our whole hand yet," Tescher said. "I'm pretty excited about this weekend."

The Blue Hawks have also received added power from Jon Mendoza, twice, Ryan Risse, Jacob Muir and Chris Mjelstad.

"It would have been nice to see the power come a little bit earlier in the season," Mjelstad said with a smile. "But it's here and we all know that we can drive the ball. Hopefully, we can take that into the tournament this week."

For the DSU's batters who have more than 65 plate appearances, the average is .303 and includes 62 extra-base hits. Players and coaches feel comfortable with anyone in the lineup getting the clutch hit.

"That's something cool about our lineup," Tescher said. "All nine guys can come up and have a clutch hit. Everybody in the lineup has the capability of going 3-for-3 in a game. A lot of guys have a lot of confidence right now."

For example, Murphy, the No. 9 hitter, has a .313 average with five doubles, one triple and 13 RBIs. Mendoza ranks second on the team with a .365 average, followed by Risse's .333 average.

"When we go up to the plate and have success, they have a good approach," Watson said. "If you have a good approach, know what your job is and what pitches you can drive, you are going to have a better chance of success."


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