HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – South Dakota State erupted for 10 runs in the top of the seventh inning, capped by a Jake Ratz pinch-hit grand slam, en route to a 12-5 victory over host Alabama A&M in the opening game of a four-game baseball series Friday afternoon at Bulldog Field.
The Jackrabbits improved to 3-2 overall, while Alabama A&M dropped to 2-5 on the season. The
Trailing 4-0 through six innings, SDSU sent 13 batters to the plate against five different Bulldog pitchers in the 10-run seventh. Paul Jacobson and Matt Johnson opened the inning with back-to-back singles and Al Robbins followed with a double to plate the first run of the outburst and chase A&M starter J. Freeman.
The next two Jackrabbit runs scored when Eric Danforth and Aaron Machbitz reached on errors in successive at-bats. SDSU then gained a 6-4 lead on three consecutive doubles by Reid Clary, Cody Sharrow and Scott Splett.
After a one-out walk to Jacobson loaded the bases, Ratz greeted reliever Caleb Bowen by driving a pitch over the right-field fence for his first career home run in a Jackrabbit uniform.
Alabama A&M plated an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth before the Jackrabbits capped the scoring in the top of the ninth on a run-scoring single by Robbins and RBI double by reserve outfielder Michael Finocchiaro.
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on a run-scoring single by Andrew Utterback off SDSU starter Adam Bray, then added two more runs in the fourth on RBI base hits by Julio Nunez and Patrick Dodson. Utterback homered to lead off the fifth inning to build the A&M lead to 4-0.
Bray picked up his second win of the season, exiting after the Jackrabbits took the lead in the top of the seventh. The junior right-hander surrendered 10 hits and walked one, while striking out three. Joe Erickson pitched a scoreless seventh inning, while newcomers Derringer Huff and Ryan Froom finished up on the mound for the Jackrabbits.
Robbins and Zach Coppola each tallied two hits to lead the Jackrabbits’ 11-hit attack. Utterback and Dodson were two of five Bulldog hitters to register two of the squad’s 13 hits.
Freeman struck out five and walked one before running into trouble in the seventh for Alabama A&M.
The two squads are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.
NOTES: Friday’s meeting was the first-ever meeting between SDSU and Alabama A&M in baseball … the Jackrabbits last scored 10 runs in an inning in an 11-10 loss at North Dakota State in the first game of a doubleheader on May 14, 2013 … Ratz hit the first grand slam by a Jackrabbit player since Billy Stitz in the second game of a doubleheader against Western Illinois on May 22, 2010
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 12, ALABAMA A&M 5 SDSU 000 000 (10)02 12-11-1 AAM 001 210 010 5-13-3 SDSU: Adam Bray, Joe Erickson (7), Derringer Huff (8), Ryan Froom (9) and Reid Clary. AAM: Joshua Freeman, Payden Khun (7), Manny Lora (7), Braden Snyder (7), Caleb Bowen (7), Allen Belue (9) and Dustin Dhanani.