Junior first baseman Tanner Simons went 4 for 4 while junior closer Kyle Kennebeck set a single season school record with his 10th save to lead the Wayne State College baseball team in a 5-2 win over Minot State Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the NSIC Baseball Tournament at Putz Field in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Wildcats move to 29-22 on the season with the win and now face #1 seed Minnesota State (10-0 win over Minnesota Crookston) in a winner’s bracket semi-final game on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Faber Field in St. Cloud.
The Wildcats scored two runs in the bottom of the second to take a 2-0 lead. Tandon Dorn came through with a two-run double to left field that scored David Janes (walk) and Simons (single).
Wildcat starter Taner Ledezma helped the Wildcats maintain a 2-0 lead as he retired nine of 10 batters in the third, fourth and fifth innings. He escaped a possible scoring threat by Minot State in the sixth when the Beavers got two hits and two walks, but Ledezma picked off one runner at first and got out of a bases loaded jam with a double play to end the inning.
WSC then built a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth with three more runs. Cody Jenkins doubled to left center and scored on a Simons RBI single to left. Senior catcher Bodie Cooper then homered to left field making the score 5-0.
Minot State got on the board with two runs in the seventh while leaving the bases loaded. A pinch-hit double with two outs got the Beavers on the board with two runs to chase Ledezma. Reliever Keenan Breen entered the game and walked two batters to load the bases, but got a deep fly ball to right field to get out of the bases loaded situation.
Breen recorded two more outs in the eighth and gave way to junior lefthander Kyle Kennebeck, who closed the contest by recording the final four outs while allowing one hit to notch his 10th save, a new single season school record, allowing the Wildcats to clinch the 5-2 win.
Both teams had nine hits in the contest. Simons led WSC going 4 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Cooper ended 2 for 3 with a two-run homer. Dorn contributed a two-run double while Jenkins also doubled. Aaron Krier had the other Wildcat hit, a single.
Ledezma worked 6 2/3 innings to record the pitching win, now 5-2 on the year. He gave up seven hits and two runs with two walks and two strikeouts. Breen pitched one inning of relief and gave up one hit with two walks and one strikeout. Kennebeck notched the final four outs of the contest, allowing one hit, to record his 10th save of the season. The Elkhorn South graduate broke the previous mark of nine saves in a season held by Curtis Bussard (2014) and Dustin Nilius (2005).
Wayne State (29-22) meets #1 seed Minnesota State (41-9) Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in a winner’s bracket semi-final. It will be the first time the two teams have faced each other this season.