Bison Capture First-Ever Summit League Tournament Title - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Bison Capture First-Ever Summit League Tournament Title

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John Skrbec drilled a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the first inning and Reed Pfannenstein pitched eight-and a third-shutout innings, powering the North Dakota State Bison baseball team (25-24) to a 9-0 win over Western Illinois (21-32) Saturday, May 24, at Sioux Falls Stadium to capture their first-ever Summit League baseball tournament championship and earn their first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance.  

The complete NCAA tournament field will be revealed at 11 a.m. CT Monday, May 26, on ESPNU.

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, Michael 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, a native of St. Cloud, Minn., 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 ever win the tournament and advance to the NCAA baseball tournament for the first time since 1969. That year, the Bison won a pair of games in the NCAA College Division Midwest Regional, falling to Missouri State in the championship game. 

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. 
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