Northland Sports Online

Yellowjackets Sweep Rams


NSO – George Bailey

SUPERIOR, Wis. – It’s been a streaky start to the season for the Yellowjacket baseball team. The ‘Jackets opened the season losing four straight, only to rebound and win seven in a row to surge above the .500 mark. On the heels of that, however, has come the latest streak, one that has seen the Yellowjackets drop five in a row.

Saturday afternoon, the Yellowjackets were looking to end this latest skid and start a new streak the other direction as they hosted North Central. The first one was one-sided and the second went down to the wire, but the Yellowjackets came out on top both times, winning 10-1 in the opener and 11-10 in the nightcap.

With the wins, the Yellowjackts (9-9, 2-0 UMAC) are back to the .500 and sit alone in first place in the UMAC after the opening of conference play.

Game One
Ryan Rodriguez (Chaska, Minn./Chaska) dominated the opener for the Yellowjackets Saturday. The senior southpaw completely shut down North Central, throwing a complete-game five hitter while striking out a career-high 13. Rodriguez’s previous high was nine, a mark he reached multiple times during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

The only blemish on the afternoon for Rodriguez came in the first inning when Justin Torres homered with two outs. From there Rodriguez was in control on one side, while his offense did damage on the other.

In the bottom of the second the Yellowjackets drew even. Sam McNosky (Minneapolis, Minn./DeLaSalle) started things with a one-out double to right and then came around to score on Isaac Grothe’s (East Bethel, Minn./St. Francis) infield single.

The Yellowjackets blew it open in the bottom of the third. Brandon Rolf (Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater Area) led off with a double, Christian Garcia (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs) followed with a walk and Bryce Flanagan (Brainerd, Minn./Brainerd) reached on an infield single to load the bases. Rolf scored on a ground out and two more came in on a double by Nick Zezulka (St. Anthony, Minn./St. Anthony Village) to make it 4-1.

A McNosky single put runners on the corners, then the Yellowjackets executed a perfect double steal to bring home their fifth run. McNosky and Grothe would each score runs later in the inning on errors, and when all was said and done the ‘Jackets were ahead 7-1.

Flanagan added to the lead with a home run to left to lead off the bottom of the fourth, making it 8-1. Then in the bottom of the sixth the Yellowjackets manufactured another run, with Nick Shea (Pengilly, Minn./Greenway) scoring on a single by Gunner Johnson (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) to make it a 9-1 game. Then in the bottom of the seventh the ‘Jackets closed out the scoring as Garcia doubled to right, bringing in Idual Nater to make the final score 10-1.

The Yellowjackets pounded out 14 hits in the game, with Rolf, McNosky, Garcia and Flanagan all having two.

Game Two
It looked like the second game was going to be another one-sided affair, as the Yellowjackets built an early cushion, but the Rams came roaring back to take a lead and force the Yellowjackets to rally for the sweep.

After a scoreless first inning the Yellowajckets scored a pair of runs in the second. Alex Aguilar (Simi Valley, Calif./Westlake ) singled, stole second, then scored on a Mike Rodriguez (Chicago, Ill./Gordon Tech) single to get things started. Rodriguez then stole second and came around to score on Rolf’s triple to put the Yellowjackets up 2-0.

Flanagan led off the third with a double to left and then came in when Ryan Castaneda (San Pedro, Calif./Junipero Serra) hit a long home run to right field, giving the Yellowjackets a four-run lead. Two hitters later Isaac Fugere (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East) and Ben Rhodes (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) hit back-to-back singles then executed a double steal to put two runners in scoring position. Both would come in when Rodriguez singled up the middle, driving both runners in and giving the Yellowjackets a 6-0 lead.

With the pitching and defense the Yellowjackets had in the opener, one would think the six runs would be enough, but North Central rallied and closed the gap just as quickly as it opened.

One run came in on a one-out bases loaded walk to get the Rams on the board in the top of the fifth. A second run scored on a ground out and then Rene Brockman homered to left, and just like that the Yellowjacket lead was down to one at 6-5.

In the top of the sixth Torres connected for his second homer of the day, driving an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left. The two-run shot put North Central in front 7-6.

The Yellowjackets would regain in the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Aguilar started the rally with a one-out double and Rodriguez followed with a walk. Aguilar scored and Rodriguez moved to third on Rolf’s double, and the game was tied 7-7. Rodriguez then scored on a wild pitch to put the ‘Jackets up a run.

In the eighth the Yellowjackets expanded the lead. Rhodes reached on a fielders choice and moved up on an error. He then stole third and came home on Aguilar’s double to right. Aguilar scored the 10th run on a Rodriguez triple, and Rodriguez scored the final run for the Yellowjackets on an error, and it was 11-7 heading to the ninth.

It looked like things would be smooth in the ninth, but the Rams rallied, loading the bases and scoring three times when Torres doubled off the fence in left. Matthew Tappe got the game’s final out and the ‘Jackets eked out the one-run win.

Rodriguez had a big game at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and four driven in. Aguilar also had three hits to help pace the 15-hit attack.

Elliott Danhoff got the start and pitched five innings, allowing five runs on three hits. He struck out 11, but also walked six. Garcia pitched a third of an inning before giving way to Tappe, who got the win to improve to 2-0 on the year. He allowed three runs on two hits while walking four and striking out three.

The Yellowjackets will be back home Wednesday when they host Northwestern. The first pitch is set for 1:30 p.m. at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply