Big Opening Inning Propels Sioux Falls Sweep Of Upper Iowa

Cougars Take Twin Bill With 20-2 & 11-1 Wins

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Using a sizzling display at the plate and two complete game pitching performances, the University of Sioux Falls Baseball Team (16-24, 13-17 NSIC) rebounded from two losses on Saturday by sweeping Upper Iowa (16-22, 12-18 NSIC) in NSIC action on Sunday at the Birdcage. The Cougars recorded season bests in runs and hits in a 20-2 victory in game one. They followed up with an 11-1 decision when they put up 12 more hits in game two. As a result of the sweep on Sunday, USF and UIU split the four-game series this weekend.

On Sunday, USF had its best day on offense all-season. The Cougars, which had a 10-run inning in the game one victory, hit a sizzling .471 as a team with 32 hits in 68 at bats and 31 runs, which is a season best in consecutive games.  Leading the way for USF was sophomore first baseman Josh Rehwaldt, who had five hits in 10 at bats with five RBI and a stolen base. Cole Sweeney had four hits in seven at bats, including his first career home run in the 20-2 game one win. Matthew Minnick had three hits and five RBI while Noah Durkin, Rob Johnson, and Connor Merriam also had three hits.

Dylan Gavin also had a big day for USF with three hits in five at bats in game one. In game two, he recorded his first win of the season with a complete game four-hitter as USF took an 11-1 victory. In fact, he was the back half of a solid day on the mound. Senior right hander Zak Wallner threw a complete game victory in the 20-2 game one victory. The pair of USF starting pitchers combined for a 1.93 ERA and allowed just nine hits and three earned runs in 14 innings. They had four strikeouts and walked six batters. UIU hit just .184 against Gavin and Wallner combined.

G1– USF 20 UIU 2 (7 innings)
In game one, the Cougars produced a season-high in runs and hits while Wallner tossed a complete game in the 20-2 victory in seven innings. The victory ended a two-game losing streak.

Wallner allowed just five hits and two runs while striking out two hitters. In 87 pitches, he allowed single runs in the second and sixth innings and spread out the five UIU hits.
On the offense side of things, the Cougars started out fast with a season-high 10 runs on nine hits in the first inning. From there, the Cougars continued to build on their lead with two runs in the third frame, one in the fourth and three in the sixth inning.

Gavin had three hits, two runs and an RBI while Sweeney was one of eight players with two hits. Sweeney had a team-high four RBI and his three-run home run in the sixth inning closed out the scoring. Gunner Peterson, Rehwaldt, Austin Richey, Minnick, Johnson and Connor Merriam also had two hits. Rehwaldt scored a game high four runs and had two RBI. Richey added three RBI while Peterson, Minnick and Johnson each had two RBI in USF’s most productive game at the plate this season.

Using nine hits, including four doubles, the Cougars put up a season-best 10 runs in batting around in the first inning. Richey’s hot hitting continued as he laced a double in the right field corner which plated Peterson and Rehwaldt, who had doubled earlier in the inning. Johnson followed with an RBI single to right field which scored Richey for a 3-0 edge. Sweeney added a run-scoring single and Durkin drew his 20th walk of the season, plating Dylan Gavin for a 5-0 advantage.  Then, Peterson singled through the left side for a two-run single as the Cougars lead grew to 8-0. A two-run double by Minnick pushed the advantage to 10-0, forcing a second pitching change for UIU.

The Peacocks answered with a run on two hits, added by a balk, in the second inning to cut the advantage to 10-1.

The Cougars responded in the third inning to put the game away. USF put up two more runs as the result of four straight hit two-out hits. Minnick started the offense with a single, moved to third on another single by Johnson and scored on a hit by Gavin. Johnson came home on Merriam’s RBI single to left field as the Cougars built a 12-1 lead through three innings. The Cougars added another run with two outs in the fourth inning as Johnson drew a bases loaded walk to plate Rehwaldt.

Sweeney slammed his first career HR, a three-run shot over the left field fence, as the Cougars extended their margin to 20-2 through six innings.

G2 – USF 11 UIU 1 (7 innings)
In the second game of the doubleheader, USF provided big offense and stellar pitching to record a sweep with an 11-1 victory by run rule (seven innings).
Gavin (1-2) had his best outing of the season by allowing just four hits and one run over seven innings. He walked just one batter and struck out two as he lowered his ERA to 5.79 on the season.

The offense was led by Rehwaldt, who had three hits and three RBI. Peterson added two hits and an RBI while Sweeney also had a pair of hits. Minnick had a hit and three RBI.

After UIU scored a run in the third to grab a 1-0 lead, the Cougars tied in the fourth inning when Minnick generated a sacrifice fly to plate Peterson.

In the fifth inning, USF put up a four-spot to take control of the game. It opened simple enough for the Cougars, including a walk by Anthony Lopez, single by Merriam and a bunt single by Sweeney. USF took a 2-1 lead when Durkin’s RBI single with the bases loaded plated Lopez. After a fielder’s choice ground out by Peterson added a tally, Rehwaldt ripped a two-run single past a drawn in UIU infield for the 5-1 advantage.

USF ended the game in the seventh inning by putting up a six-spot on six hits. Rehwaldt’s opposite field single plated Durkin for a 6-1 lead. Minnick followed up with a two-run single to score Rehwaldt and Peterson for an 8-1 lead. Lopez had a run-producing single, followed by Johnson’s bad hop single which scored Richey for a 10-1 lead. Merriam ended it with a fielder’s choice RBI which scored Johnson.

Next for USF will be a doubleheader at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26 with city rival Augustana at Karras Park.

Notes – As a result of the USF hitting barrage today, the Cougars, which sit third in the league in hitting, pushed their team batting average to .313. Austin Richey, a senior designated hitter, and Josh Rehwaldt are tied the team lead in average at .377. In addition, Rehwaldt now has a team-best 43 RBI and 58 hits. Eight USF hitters are hitting over .300. With his performance today, Zak Wallner dropped his ERA to 4.17.

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