North Dakota State Captures Baseball Championship Title

Summit League Baseball Championship Game -- Western Illinois vs. North Dakota State (photo by Dave Eggen, Inertia Sports Media)
Summit League Baseball Championship Game -- Western Illinois vs. North Dakota State (photo by Dave Eggen, Inertia Sports Media)

Baseball Championship Page | Bracket

Video courtesy of Midco Sports Network

The Basics
Score: No. 4 North Dakota State 9, No. 2 Western Illinois 0
Records: North Dakota State (25-24), Western Illinois (21-32)
Location: Sioux Falls Stadium – Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Fourth-seeded North Dakota State captured its first Summit League Baseball Championship title with a 9-0 win over No. 2 Western Illinois Saturday, at Sioux Falls Stadium.

The Bison earned their first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance and first NCAA postseason tournament appearance since 1969.

After a Nick Altavilla walk loaded the bases, Michael Leach singled to right field, scoring the first two Bison runs and leaving runners at the corner. Andy Wicklund then walked to load the bases once more before John Skrbec homered over the left field wall for a grand slam to put NDSU in front 6-0 after the first inning.

In the North Dakota State second, the Bison scored two more runs on three hits. Altavilla and Leach hit back-to-back RBI singles in the inning to give NDSU an 8-0 cushion.

Western Illinois threatened in the first and third innings but could not scratch across a run. In the first, the Leathernecks attempted a double-steal with runners on first and third but had Neil DeCook thrown-out at home plate. In the third, WIU had runners at the corners with two outs but NDSU got out of the inning on a Tanner Glore groundout.

The Bison added a run in the fifth as Jon Hechtner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

NDSU's Reed Pfannenstein (4-1), Tournament MVP, recorded the win throwing 8.1 innings with a career-high tying six strikeouts. Preston Church (1-2) suffered the loss for WIU.

Skrbec and Leach led the Bison with two hits apiece and four and three RBI, respectively, while six different Leatherneck players recorded a hit.

Turning Point
A six-run Bison first inning propelled them to the 9-0 victory.

After a single and pair of walks, Michael Leach singled to right field, driving-in Wes Satzinger and Jon Hechtner for the eventual game-winning runs. Two batters later, with the bases loaded, North Dakota State's John Skrbec blasted the tournament's first home run and the first of his career over the left field wall for a grand slam.

Inside The Box Score

  • Championship game attendance was 416.
  • NDSU's John Skrbec hit the only home run in the tournament in the bottom of the first inning.
  • Six different Leatherneck players record one hit apiece.

News & Notes

  • North Dakota State captures its first Summit League Baseball Championship title after falling in the title game the previous two years.
  • NDSU's John Skrbec's grand slam in the first inning was the first home run of his career and first of the tournament.
  • The Bison become the first team to go undefeated in tournament play since Oral Roberts in 2011.
  • North Dakota State becomes the lowest seeded team to win the tournament title in league history.
  • NDSU's Reed Pfannenstein tied his career-high with six strikeouts.
  • Total tournament attendance was 4,462, which ranks second all-time.
  • The nine runs scored by North Dakota State are the most by one team in a title game since 2010.

All-Tournament Team
Nick Altavilla, North Dakota State
Tom Constand, Western Illinois
David Ernst, North Dakota State
Kristian Gayday, Fort Wayne
Tanner Glore, Western Illinois
Jon Hechtner, North Dakota State
Jameson Henning, Western Illinois
Chad Hodges, South Dakota State
Michael Leach, North Dakota State
Reed Pfannenstein, North Dakota State (MVP)
JJ Reimer, Western Illinois
Scott Splett, South Dakota State
Parker Trewin, North Dakota State
Evan VanSumeren, Fort Wayne

Up Next
North Dakota State will await its placement and opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show will air live on ESPNU at 11 a.m. CT Monday.