COON RAPIDS, Minn. – The North Central baseball team closed out their home schedule for this season in a non-conference doubleheader against Martin Luther College. The lights illuminated the night sky and shone bright on the scoreboard for the home team, taking the victory in each game with the scores of 5-3 and 16-0.
The Rams were advantageous in both matchups; Sophomore Eli Valder highlighted the night pitching a gem in game two. Valder took the complete game shutout allowing only four hits while facing 27 batters. Valder struck out nine, walked one, and earned his first career win.
Freshman pitcher Blazsen Ferreira started game one and pitched a complete game for the blue and gold, earning a team leading third win of the season. Ferreira was efficient in his outing, allowing three runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked two.
North Central made the best of their opportunities in game one while being out hit by the Knights seven to four. NCU batters showed patience at the plate and walked eight times. The Rams jumped to a 3-1 lead in the second by means of a bases loaded walk, fielder's choice and Jared High scored on the throw as Robert Donohoe stole second base.
Martin Luther would tie the game, scoring twice in the third. North Central would take the lead for good in their half of the third when Taylor Justice grounded into a fielder's choice, scoring Bryce Riege for the winning run. NCU would add an insurance run in the fourth when Donohoe crossed home plate on a wild pitch.
In the nightcap, the bats came alive for the Rams. The team tallied 16 hits, 16 runs, 14 RBI, and eight batters walked. Five North Central batters connected for more than one hit, including Brandon Scott going 3 for 3, 2 RBI and scored 3 runs. The others included Cory Kukkola, High, Justice and Valder. Nine batters hit an RBI and Grant Payne, High, Justice, Donohoe, and Scott each hit 2 RBI.
Head Coach Justin Brown found the opportunity to get each of the available 12 players some time on the field and at bat. 10 North Central players would earn a hit and score at least one run. Freshman Michael Mulligan made his first appearance of the season. In his two plate appearances, he went 1 for 1, one RBI, scored one run and walked once.
Next up, the Rams (6-25, 2-12 UMAC) have a day off before concluding the 2017 season on the road for a conference doubleheader versus the University of Wisconsin Superior (11-25, 5-7 UMAC) Saturday, May 6. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:30 PM at Ted Whereatt Field in Superior, Wis.