North Dakota State beats Western Illinois for first Summit League title
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- John Skrbec drilled a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the first inning and Reed Pfannenstein pitched 8.1 shutout innings, powering North Dakota State (25-24) to a 9-0 win against Western Illinois (21-32) on Saturday at Sioux Falls Stadium to capture its first Summit League baseball tournament championship.
NDSU posted a perfect 3-0 record in the three-day, double-elimination tournament. Pfannenstein was named the tournament MVP, while teammates Nick Altavilla, David Ernst, Jon Hechtner, Michael Leach and Parker Trewin joined him on the All-Tournament team.
NDSU jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. After an Altavilla walk, Leach hit a two-out single to right that drove in Wes Satzinger and Hechtner for the Bison's first two runs of the game. After Andy Wicklund drew a walk to load the bases, Skrbec stepped to the plate and hit a towering shot over the left field fence for the first grand slam of his career, plating four more runs for NDSU. Skrbec's grand slam was the first and only home run of the tournament and his first homer of the season.
Skrbec, Leach and Altavilla each went 2-for-4 at the plate to pace the Bison offense. Skrbec drove in a game-high four runs while Leach had three RBI. Hechtner and Altavilla also each had an RBI in the contest.
Pfannenstein didn't allow a run on five Western Illinois hits and matched his career-high with six strikeouts. He walked just one batter and improved to 4-1 overall on the mound with the win.
NDSU added to its 6-0 lead in the bottom of the second, scoring two more runs. Altavilla singled home Tim Colwell and Leach hit an RBI single to right center that plated Kyle Kleinendorst.
The Bison lead ballooned to 9-0 in the bottom of the fifth after Hechtner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
With the win, the Bison, the four seed, become the lowest seed to win the tournament.
Preston Church took the loss on the mound for Western Illinois, allowing six earned runs on three hits to fall to 1-2 on the season.
With the win, the Bison improve to 25-24 overall while Western Illinois ends its season with an overall record of 21-32.