After starting off its season on a tear, going 11-4 in games prior to this past weekend, the SVSU baseball team looked to continue its success against Truman State on Saturday, March 17, and Sunday, March 18, in Kirksville, Missouri.
Those efforts were at least somewhat successful, as the Cardinals swept the Bulldogs on Saturday before playing a second doubleheader on Sunday that concluded after The Valley Vanguard’s time of publication.
On Saturday, The Cardinals took the series’ first game by a score of 11-4 before winning an extra-inning nail-biter 4-3 in the nightcap.
In the first game, the first of four Truman errors got SVSU on the board in the top of the first inning when junior infielder Jordan Swiss reached on an errant throw, plating Derrek Clyde. SVSU got another unearned run one batter later when junior Quincy Jones reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Craig Wilson.
Truman added a run of its own in the bottom of the first before a Clyde groundout scored freshman Todd Paperd to make it 3-1 in favor of SVSU. The Bulldogs again answered with a run in the second before the Cardinals poured in two runs in the third and five runs in the fourth, extending their lead to 10-2. Jones, Paperd, Swiss, Colin Winters and Gerrit Eding all had RBIs to spring the rallies.
Truman made the deficit 10-4 in the sixth by adding a pair of runs before an Adam Fitzgibbon sacrifice fly that scored Wilson rounded out the scoring at 11-4.
Redshirt sophomore Alex Millhisler earned the win on the mound for SVSU, going six innings and allowing three earned while striking out three.
“I felt really confident on the mound,” Millhisler said. “My fastball had a little more jump on it than usual. My cutter wasn’t working as well as it usually does, so I relied more on my curveball and changeup.”
Swiss finished the game 3-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Wilson was 2-4 and scored three times.
In the second game, a Jones single to left field scoring Swiss in the top of the tenth inning was the difference in a 4-3 win.
“We had some opportunities to score some runs in the earlier innings of game two,” head coach Chris Ebright said. “But we kept fighting. Our relief pitchers really stepped up the second game. They showed the most grit.”
Truman got out to a 3-1 lead before SVSU added a run in both the fifth and sixth innings, ultimately leading to extras. Following the 10th-inning run, Swiss entered the game and earned his fourth save of the year, striking out two and sealing the win for the Cardinals.
Swiss, primarily a middle infielder, was an All-State pitcher in high school and has been spending more time on the mound this season for SVSU.
“This year, I’ve been working on pitching a lot more than past years,” he said. “I’m really confident as a pitcher, and I know I have good enough stuff to get batters out.”
Swiss also paced the offense, going 3-5 as he improved his season batting average to a red-hot .525. Cole Brooks was 2-4 with a double and a fifth-inning home run.
“We’re all playing well together and we have really good team chemistry this year,” Swiss said. “At the plate, I’m just anticipating a fastball early in the count and putting a good swing on it.”
SVSU’s Amani Godfrey got the start on the mound, going five innings while allowing three runs and striking out five. Eric Fritz, Caleb Somerville and Swiss shut the door for SVSU in relief, not allowing a single run over the game’s final five innings.
“I am happy our team can win an 11-4 game and still have the fight to win a close 4-3 game,” Ebright said. “Sometimes teams get complacent after a big win.”
SVSU will look to continue its strong season Wednesday, March 21, in a single game against Concordia in its home opener. They will then travel to Ohio to play Tiffin over the weekend.
“The hot start is just proof of how hard we’ve worked as a whole in the off-season,” Millhisler said. “We have the capability to do something really special this year.”