MACCOMB, Ill. (NDSU Athletics) -- The North Dakota State baseball team earned a doubleheader split with Western Illinois on Saturday, as the Bison won two of the three games played over the weekend.
Western Illinois (7-14, 2-4 Summit) scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth in the opener to beat NDSU 9-6. The Bison bounced back in a big way in the nightcap, beating the Leathernecks 11-1 in seven innings, as NDSU improved to 4-12 overall and 2-4 in Summit league play. The two teams were originally scheduled to play the third game of the series on Sunday, but forecasted weather for the area forced the teams to play a doubleheader on Saturday.
The Bison jumped out to an early lead in the first game of the doubleheader with a pair of runs in the first inning. A sacrifice fly by Sean Noel drove in Bennett Hostetler for the first run of the game before Jack Simonsen singled up the middle to plate Peter Brookshaw for the 2-0 lead. Noel would score the third run of the game in the second inning as Simonsen reached on a fielder's choice.
Western Illinois cut into the lead with two runs in the third inning before NDSU put two more runs on the board in the fifth inning. Hunter Koep and Simonsen both hit solo home runs in the inning, pushing the NDSU lead to 5-2. Western Illinois scored a run in the fifth before scoring three in the bottom of the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. The Bison tied the game in the top of the eighth as Tyler Hillman scored on a passed ball. The Leathernecks scored three runs on four hits in the bottom of the eighth for the 9-6 victory.
Simonsen had two hits and drove in three runs in the loss. Max Loven had a no-decision on the mound, as he tossed six innings. Loven allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out five. Gabe Pilla dropped to 0-3 on the year, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks in 1.1 innings of work.
The bats came alive in the nightcap, as NDSU tallied 13 hits in the 11-1 victory. The first run came in the second inning, as Charley Hesse homered down the left field line. The Leathernecks tied the game with a run in the third inning, but the Bison started to pull away in the fourth inning. A one-out double by Jake Malec started the scoring, as Hesse scored on the play. With two outs, Koep singled through the left side to drive in Brookshaw and Malec.
NDSU loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning, as the Bison put up five runs in the inning. Malec was hit by a pitch to score Carter Thompson before Hostetler was walked on four pitches to bring in Hesse. Ben Tallman scored as Brookshaw grounded into a double play. Malec scored on an infield single by Koep before Noel scored the final run of the inning on a single to center field by Simonsen.
The Bison sealed the game in the seventh inning with a pair of runs. A two-out double by Simonsen plated Koep and Noel for the final runs of the game.
Hesse led the Bison with three hits, while Koep, Simonsen and Tallman each had two. Hesse also scored three runs, while Noel and Malec each scored twice. Koep and Simonsen each drove in three runs, while Malec drove in a pair. Ben Smith improved to 1-1 on the mound, as he tossed four innings. Smith gave up a run on six hits and a walk, while striking out four. Jordan Harms earned his first save of the season, giving up three hits in three innings, while striking out one.
NDSU returns to action on Friday, March 29 as they start a three-game series at defending Summit League Champion Oral Roberts.