by PETE WATKINS, Winona State Athletic Communications
The Winona State University (WSU) baseball team swept Upper Iowa University (UIU) in commanding fashion last Wednesday, claiming a pair of key wins to climb in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) standings.
A standout complete game pitching performance did the trick in the opener, with Bailey Banaszynski going the distance in a 2-0 Warrior win.
In the nightcap, WSU bats came alive in an 8-1 victory, with Justin Firpo picking up the win on the mound. With the sweep, WSU finished the day at 20-12 overall and 17-10 in the NSIC; Upper Iowa fell to 12-22 overall and own a 10-17 NSIC mark.
In game one, Upper Iowa starting pitcher Jarrett Ramer brought his A game from Fayette in the opener, holding WSU to just two earned runs in almost five innings of work. Fortunately for Winona State, Bailey Banaszynski was better, throwing a three-hit complete game shutout in which he struck out nine Peacocks.
WSU was able to manufacture some runs in a game with few scoring chances for either team, with Carter Brinkman singling in Austin Savary in the fourth inning with what would prove to be the game-winning run. Winona State doubled its lead in the next frame when Sam Kohnle plated Derek Martin on a single to right center after Martin had reached base on a double.
The two runs were all Banaszynski needed on the day, as he dealt Upper Iowa a steady stream of strikes, putting himself up in the count on most batters and controlling the contest from the outset. The sophomore from Brookfield, Wis., had a one-hitter heading into the seventh inning before back-to-back base hits saw UIU threaten in their final at-bats. However, Banaszynski collected two successive outs on a pop-up and ground ball out, and then struck out pinch hitter Casey Zarr to end the game and collect the victory.
Warrior catcher Derek Baumgartner threw out UIU’s Sam Grushkin to kill a potential Peacock rally in the sixth, and overall, the WSU defense was rock solid in the contest, with zero errors committed and no passed balls in the game. Carter Brinkman was 2-for-3 for Winona State, while Joe Ihrke drew two walks. Kohnle was 2-for-3 overall as well.
For Banaszynski, his record moves to 5-2 on the year and the shutout marked his second complete game of the season.
After a quiet first game offensively, Winona State racked up 13 hits en route to an 8-1 win in the nightcap, marking the fifth NSIC sweep this season for head coach Kyle Poock and his team.
Justin Firpo got the start on the hill and received some strong third inning run support when Austin Savary homered over off the Maxwell Field press box, scoring three RBIs in the process. Nick Herbst and Derek Martin both scored on Savory’s blast, his first of the year.
Not to be outdone, Carter Brinkman hit his second home run of the season in the next inning, stretching Winona State’s lead to 5-0 after five frames. Upper Iowa scored their lone run in the top of the sixth, when Hogan Penny scored Jake Hilmer to spoil the shutout.
Sam Kohnle and Austin Beyer collected RBIs in the sixth and eight innings respectively, as the Warriors piled on the runs, providing strong support for middle relievers Mitchell Mueller and Peter Tveite.
Nicolas Herold took over in the ninth to finish the game; the senior from Coon Rapids, Minn., struck out one Peacock and a Warrior 6-4-3 double play ended the game after a UIU walk and a single.
Justin Firpo earned the win for the Warriors, while Austin Savary went 2-for-3 with four RBI and Carter Brinkman was 2-for-4, two runs scored and a RBI.
Sam Kohnle extended his hitting streak to eight games with an impressive 3-for-4 effort at the plate in game two.
With the two wins today, Winona State moves to 20-12 overall and 17-10 in NSIC play.
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