SAN ANTONIO, Texas (NDSU Athletics) -- The North Dakota State University baseball team opened the 2018 season with a doubleheader split against the University of the Incarnate Word Friday, Feb. 16, at Sullivan Field, winning game one 8-2, before dropping the night cap, 2-1.
Senior infielder Mason Pierzchalski went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI to lead NDSU (1-1) in its season-opening victory in game one, while fellow seniors Matt Elsenpeter and Drew Fearing each tallied a pair of hits and drove in a run.
Sophomore Riley Johnson earned the win on the mound for the Bison after throwing five innings and allowing three hits and two earned runs while tallying three strikeouts and six walks. Chris Choles secured his first save of 2018 after tossing four scoreless innings in relief with a pair of strikeouts and one walk.
North Dakota State struck early in game one, plating two runs in the top of the first inning on Pierzchalski's RBI double to right field and Logan Busch's sacrifice fly.
Incarnate Word (1-1) trimmed the Bison advantage to 2-1 with a run in the bottom of the fourth, but NDSU answered with a pair of runs in the fifth to extend its lead to 4-1 when Pierzchalski smacked a two-run single up the middle.
UIW plated a run in the bottom-half of the fifth to cut the North Dakota State advantage to 4-2, but the Bison blew the game open with four runs in the top of the eighth inning.
Elsenpeter doubled to left field, scoring Jake Malec for NDSU's opening run of the inning, before Fearing hit a RBI single to center field, scoring Elsenpeter. Jayse McLean, who sat out last season due to injury, provided the final two runs of the inning for the Bison on a two-run single through the right side that allowed Fearing and Alec Abercrombie to cross home plate.
Sean Arnold went 2-of-4 in the batter's box, pacing the Cardinals in the opener.
Incarnate Word's Bernie Martinez (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing four earned runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings pitched.
In the night cap, UIW right-hander Luke Taggart was able to silence the North Dakota State offense, holding the Bison to just three hits and one unearned run over seven innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Fearing, McLean, Malec and Elsenpeter tallied NDSU's only hits in the game.
In his Bison debut, left-hander Mitch O'Connor tossed six innings, allowing just one earned run on two hits with three strikeouts and three walks, but received a no decision.
North Dakota State reliever Kyle Ferderer took the setback on the mound after surrendering one unearned run in two innings with four walks and one strikeout.
Kyle Bergeron went 1-for-3 with a double and RBI, pacing the Cardinal offense.
Taggart earned the victory in game two, while John Shull picked up the save after giving up one hit in two innings of work.
North Dakota State and Incarnate Word are scheduled to play game three of the four-game series Saturday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m.