SAN MARCOS, Calif. - Dakota State opened their postseason play Wednesday afternoon in the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Baseball Postseason Tournament, facing top-seed and host-team Cal State San Marcos at CSUSM Baseball Field. The Trojans grabbed the first lead of the game, and held their lead throughout the game before the Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. DSU scored once in the final inning and secured a 3-2 victory over the defending A.I.I. Baseball Champions CSU San Marcos to advance to the next round.
Dakota State, the tournament's No. 6 seed, won their fourth straight game and raised their overall record to 26-24 (most wins since 2007 when the Trojans qualified for the NAIA Region III National Tournament with a 39-12 overall record). CSU San Marcos, receiving votes in the latest NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, dropped to 27-21.
DSU earned their first lead of the game in the top of the second inning. Jason Hershfield opened the inning with a walk. Ryan Steffensen hit a single and advanced Corey Pasichnyk (courtesy runner for Hershfield) to second base. Ryan Bouricer hit an RBI double to score Pasichnyk to give DSU a 1-0 lead. The Trojans extended their lead to 2-0 when Max Garza added an RBI single to score Steffensen.
CSUSM's Mark Ortivez hit a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning to trim DSU's lead to 2-1.
Austin Coleman opened the bottom eighth frame with a double for the Cougars. Jeremy Baum hit a fly out and advanced Marcus Meraz (pinch runner for Coleman) to third base. Kenny Belzer hit a line-out to second base. Adam Tapia reached on base by DSU's defensive error and allowed Meraz to score and tied the game at 2-2.
Hershfield hit a one-out double in the top of the ninth inning for Dakota State. Steffensen reached on base by CSUSM's defensive miscue and advanced Pasichnyk to third base. In the same play, both runners advanced one base by another Cougars' defensive error to allow Pasichnyk to score as DSU regained their lead at 3-2 (Steffensen advanced to second base).
The Trojans sealed the victory as the Cougars left two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Hershfield and Bourcier each had a double for Dakota State. Pasichnyk scored twice in the game. Garza had a single and an RBI. Steffensen had a single and a run scored. Rays Roman swiped one base.
Coleman and Trent Jemmett each had a double and a single for the Cougars. Anthony Renteria added a double. Baum, Tapia and Ortivez each had a single.
Hershfield (6-4) tossed a complete game win for the Trojans. He allowed two runs (one unearned) on eight hits. He recorded three strikeouts.
Richard Martin (2-2) took the loss for CSUSM. He pitched 8 1/3 innings and gave up three runs (one unearned) on four hits. Martin struck out eight DSU's batters. Shawn Sanford and Andrew Larson each worked 1/3 innings in relief.
Dakota State awaits the loser of No. 3 seed Mayville State and No. 4 seed Thomas (Ga.) game in the winner's bracket Thursday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. (Central Time)/12:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) at CSUSM Baseball Field in San Marcos, Calif.
Cal State San Marcos will face No. 2 seed Jamestown (N.D.) in the elimination game Thursday morning at 11 a.m. (CT)/9 a.m. (PT). Jamestown dropped a 8-1 decision to No. 5 seed Arizona Christian Wednesday morning.
The A.I.I. Baseball Postseason Tournament continues through Saturday, May 5.
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director