Bazzana’s power boosts Beavs to victory

Travis Bazzana stands next to Junior Infielder Elijah Hainline in between plays Friday evening against NDSU.
Travis Bazzana stands next to Junior Infielder Elijah Hainline in between plays Friday evening against NDSU.
Sam Misa

It appeared Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast for an early spring may have been off, as temperatures sat at 45 degrees at first pitch. However, the Beavers looked to heat things up and achieve back-to-back home wins.

Jaren Hunter toed the slab at Goss Stadium on Friday night and his first inning was similar to the night before. The North Dakota State Bison put pressure on the Beavers once again going up 2-0 after the first inning thanks to a Sam Canton double. 

Preseason All-PAC-12 First Team centerfielder Micah McDowell continued his hot streak immediately in the first inning with a single to make it ten straight games with a hit. He was then left on the pond to end the first inning. 

Some english was put on a short dribbler on a hit ball by Davis Hamilton followed by a base knock from Jake Schaffner gave the Bisons another threat in the second inning. Yet a couple of small ball mistakes left the runners stranded and made the game just as unorthodox as it was yesterday. 

Beavers looked to ice Nolan Johnson on the mound with a 17-minute power surge light delay who had already collected five strikeouts through three innings. His day would finish after five innings giving up two hits, one run, four walks, and five strikeouts.

On the other side, Jaren Hunter was able to muscle out four innings of work and his final statline consisted of four innings pitched, 4 H, 2 R, and 2 Ks. 

“Jaren is a real fighter, a real dog,” Travis Bazzana Said. “He leads the way in the clubhouse with the pitching staff in terms of a guy that goes out and competes no matter what. If he doesn’t have it he will give you four or five innings no matter what. It never really ends badly with Jaren, there might be some ups and downs but he goes out and competes and wants it really bad. Jaren is a real fighter and that was impressive.” 

It didn’t take long after Jaren Hunter’s dismissal for the Bisons to extend their lead after a James Dunlap two-run bomb put them up 4-0. Then third baseman Jack Steil was able to extend the Bisons’ lead even more after an RBI single to put them up 5-0 after five innings. 

A Tanner Smith double and back-to-back walks of Elijah Hainline and Bazzana gave the Beavers their first opportunity to score in the bottom of the fifth with bases loaded. After a well-put-together at-bat Canon Reeder was able to walk to get the Beavers on the scoreboard, 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth. 

In the event of two at-bats both assistant coach Trent Keefer, who helped the Bison to their first Summit League Regular Season title in 2022, and catcher Will Busch were both ejected for arguing balls and strikes to make this game even more unusual. 

After home-plate umpire Matt McMahon had to exit the game due to injury causing another delay, Travis Bazzana stepped up to the plate with two runners on and blasted a three-run home run to put the Beavers within one run in the bottom of the seventh.  

“We were trying to stay calm, and when you have a team you really believe in, you trust, nobody is thinking about a loss,” Bazzana said.

After a bases-loaded walk by Gavin Turley, the Beavers were able to tie it up in the seventh. Finally, Jacob Kreig stepped up to the plate and when you put the ball in play good things happen, a North Dakota State error led to a new lead change helping the Beavers go up 6-5 and that would be the final score.

The Beavers wrap up their four-game set with NDSU tomorrow March 2 at 1 p.m. and March 3 at 12:30 p.m.

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