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Cougars snap losing streak in baseball

The University of Minnesota, Morris baseball team snapped a losing streak by winning a pair at home against Northwestern on April 9-10. The Cougars stand at 2-7 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, after four losses to Presentation and three losses to Bethany Lutheran.

Overall, the Cougars are 3-17 this season.

UMM plays three games this weekend, starting with nine innings against Crown College on Friday afternoon.

Bethany 6

UM-Morris 1

In their conference opener, the Cougars ran into stellar pitching and fell to Bethany Lutheran 6-1 in Mankato on April 2.

The Vikings' Cody Hallaran threw a three-hitter over eight innings while striking out 14 batters. 

The Cougars' lone run came in the first inning when junior center fielder Nick Bacon, after a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt.  He was singled home by shortstop Matt Peterson.

Sophomore Jordan Gegen took the loss, surrendering six runs over 6 2/3 innings.  Sophomore Ted Gray came on in relief, allowing no hits or runs over an inning and a third.  Gegen gave up three home runs, which accounted for five of Bethany Lutheran's six scores.

After Bacon's run in the top of the first, the Vikings answered back with a solo shot and scored again in the bottom of the second.

The score held at 3-1 until the bottom of the fifth when the Vikings tallied another run.  The Cougars, meanwhile, struggled to get baserunners as Hallaran put together four perfect innings.

Gray came on in the sixth after Gegen surrendered a third home run.  After hitting a batter, Gray struck out the next hitter, stranding three Vikings on the bases.

Bethany 12

UM-Morris 2

In game one on April 3, Bethany Lutheran jumped out to a 10-0 lead after three innings and cruised the rest of the way for a 12-2 victory over the Cougars.

The early surge bumped starting pitcher Nate Haseman after an inning and a third.  Junior Tom Fox provided stability in long relief, going 3 2/3 and giving up four runs. 

Offensively, juniors Nick Bacon and Ian Olson led UMM with two hits apiece.

Bethany broke the game open in the second inning, generating six runs on just two hits, but five walks and a hit batsman. 

With just one down in the second, Fox managed to strand two Viking runners and allowed just one run.

Bethany 10

UM-Morris 8

The Cougars once again found themselves down early in game two against Bethany, who scored six runs in the first two innings. 

UMM roared back with seven runs over three innings, sparked by homers from catcher Sean Mooney-Leber and second baseman Olson. 

But the Vikings answered back with some late runs to preserve a 10-8 victory.

Junior Lee Arvold went the distance in the loss, giving up 10 runs on 14 hits. 

Olson and Mooney-Leber had four and three RBIs respectively to lead the Cougars.

The Vikings surged in front with a five-run second inning, built upon a three-run homer.

But in the fourth, the Cougar bats came alive.  First-year right fielder Drew Lundquist opened with a double to right center.  Two batters later, Olson homered to center field.  Third baseman Josh Ledin followed with a walk and was batted home when Mooney-Leber cleared the fence in left.

Bethany answered in the bottom of the fourth with a run to increase their lead to 7-4, but in the fifth the Cougars posted two more runs when Olson singled with the bases loaded.

The Vikings tallied three more runs in the fifth and sixth innings, giving them a 10-7 lead going into the top of the seventh. 

Senior Nik Randall reached on a error, followed by an Olson single.  One batter later, Mooney -Leber singled, sending home Randall, but the Cougars would not manage another run.

Presentation 13

UM-Morris 8

Some untimely Cougar errors and a late rally from Presentation allowed the Saints to escape Morris with a 13-8 victory April 6 at Cougar Prairie Field.  The Saints used a six-run eighth inning to pin the loss on UMM starter Nik Randall.

Junior Josh Ledin, Lundquist, and Randall led UMM with two RBIs apiece.  Six defensive errors resulted in three unearned runs which gave the Saints extra at-bats.

Both teams got out of the box quickly.  Presentation scored four times in the top of the first and the Cougars answered back with two of their own in the bottom half.

The Saints added three more runs over the next three innings.

UMM stormed back in the bottom half of the seventh inning.  Peterson led off with a double, followed by a single from Olson.  Peterson scored on a wild pitch.  Randall then tripled home Olson.  Ledin doubled to left center, scoring Randall.  Senior left fielder Scott Barta hit a sacrifice fly to send home Ledin.  Suddenly the game was tied at 7.

But Randall, who had pitched seven strong innings, was tiring.  The Saints touched him up for five runs in the inning before Gray came on in relief.

The Cougars tried to rally once more, but only managed a single run in the ninth.

The loss drops Randall's record to 0-3 on the year.

UM-Morris 8

Northwestern 7

The Cougars stopped an eight-game losing streak by sweeping a doubleheader against Northwestern College on April 9.

In game 1, Fox got his first start of the season and responded well, going three tough innings before handing the game to Kyle Blair who pitched four innings to earn the win.

Catcher Mike McGill led the offense with four RBIs, three of those coming on a home run in the third inning to give the Cougars an early lead.

The Cougars led 3-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning when the Eagles rallied for five runs.  Northwestern loaded the bases on Fox who was replaced by Blair.  Blair struck out the next batter, but a string of singles would clear the bases and bring home another two.

UMM went back on top in the sixth inning.  Ledin led off with a walk, followed by a Gegen double, moving Ledin to third.  McGill hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Ledin.  Bacon singled home Gegen two batters later.  With left fielder Chris Thompson on third and Bacon on second, Lundquist doubled through the left side to score both runs.  After five and a half innings, the Cougars were back up 8-6.

Northwestern took back a run in the bottom of the sixth. 

Gegen went 4-for-4 in the game.

UM-Morris 13

Northwestern 10

Two home runs from Mooney-Leber and runs in six of seven innings paced UMM to a 13-10 win in the nightcap.

Mooney-Leber blasted solo shots in the fourth and fifth innings.  Ledin also homered in the third inning, a three-run clear that put the Cougars in front 6-2.

Randall went the complete game, giving up six earned runs while walking only one batter.

Northwestern was its own enemy, committing five errors, several of those in innings 2-4 when the Cougars scored nine runs.

UMM led 13-6 going into the bottom of the seventh.  The Eagles managed to score four runs to narrow the gap, but drew no closer.

Every starter in the game reached base at least once.

Presentation 3

UM-Morris 2

The Cougars traveled to Presentation for a double header, where the Saints rallied for game-winning runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in each contest.

In the first game, the Saints scored first in the third inning, manufacturing a single run off Cougar starter Gegen, who would go the distance.

Meanwhile, Presentation starter Spencer Sudbeck baffled the Cougars until the top of the sixth when UMM struck for two runs and the lead.

Barta led off with a single and Bacon followed with another base hit.  Lundquist sacrificed to the pitcher, advancing Barta and Bacon.  Peterson brought home Barta with a second straight sacrifice.  One batter later, Randall singled, scoring Bacon from third.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Saints touched Gegen for two hits and had runners on the corners when a throwing error from the outfield allowed both runners to score. 

But the Cougars had one more rally.  In the top of the seventh, facing reliever Sam Heintzman, the Cougars earned three walks to load the bases with two outs.  Heintzman struck out Peterson to end the game.

Presentation 4

UM-Morris 3

Poor defense victimized the Cougars as they committed five errors en route to a 4-3 loss.  In particular, errors in the fifth and sixth innings allowed the Saints to score the tying and game-winning runs.

Arvold pitched well over five innings, allowing two earned runs.  Blair, in relief, took the loss, giving up one run.

The Cougars picked up two runs in the second inning.  Gegen led off with a single, stole second, and came home on a base hit from McGill.

The Saints scored twice in the bottom half of the inning to even the game.

UMM went ahead again in the fifth when Gegen singled home Olson from third.

But the Saints again evened the game with a run in the bottom half.

In the sixth inning, Blair gave up a lead off hit to Sudbeck who was replaced on first by runner Cody Wesch.  Wesch stole second and then came home on a throwing error from Ledin who was throwing to first.

In the top of the seventh, Randall earned a base on balls, but the Cougars could not score him against Heintzman, who came in to relieve starter Dustin Pickerel.