WAYNE — The Wildcats of Wayne State kept things close early but lost control late in a 13-3 loss to Minnesota State-Mankato on Sunday.
The loss capped a weekend sweep at the hands of the Mavericks. Wayne State has now lost seven straight games.
Ryan Obrecht came out of the gate strong for the Wildcats, needing just 10 pitches to get through the top of the first. Unfortunately, one of them was sent over the left-field wall by Joey Werner to put Minnesota State up 1-0.
Wayne State sought to even things up and then some in the bottom half with the bases loaded and one out. Eric Standish had a chance to break it open but grounded to the first baseman, who threw home to tag out Brendan Madsen. The next batter, Noah Roberts, popped out to left field to end the threat.
The next two innings were a pitcher’s duel between Obrecht and Brendan Knoll, who going into Sunday led the NSIC with a 0.89 earned run average. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since a March 25 game against Minnesota-Duluth.
In the fourth inning, the Mavericks broke the ice with a single by Cam Kline to bring home Werner, who started the inning with a walk and a steal of second base. Later in the inning, RBIs by Ross Indlecoffer, Ben Livorsi and Teddy Petersen, along with a three-run home run by Werner, knocked Obrecht out and blew the doors open.
Wayne State coach Alex Koch cited an inability to adjust as Obrecht’s downfall. The sophomore from Omaha wasn’t able to locate his pitches based on the strike zone set by the umpire and couldn’t control his fastball, either.
“He couldn’t make an adjustment with his off-speed stuff. He couldn’t get down in the zone and throw his off-speed pitches for a strike,” Koch said. “He just left his fastball down the middle, and they made us pay for it.”
The Wildcats were able to score one run in the fourth on a single by Peyton Barnes and two more in the fifth, but the Mavericks added three runs of their own to go into the bottom of the seventh with a 13-3 lead and a chance to force the mercy rule.
In the bottom half, the black and gold had runners on the corners with one out and an opportunity to keep the game going. However, Standish struck out swinging. The next batter, Chris Cornish, was able to work a full count but struck out swinging to end the game.
That situation was part of a lack of situational hitting that had plagued the Wildcats all weekend and more so on Sunday. Wayne State left nine runners on base in the contest.
“Hitting is contagious and, if we can get some of those big hits like that, I think we can get rolling,” Koch said, “but not getting that timely hit to get us going has really hurt us.”
With April almost over, a sense of urgency is taking hold of the Wildcats. The team has seven games left in the regular season to qualify for the NSIC Tournament in May, which only the top eight teams get to play in. The black and gold sit at 11th in the conference standings.
“We have seven games left and about 13 guys that aren’t gonna be coming back next year. We need to fight for them and make a run,” Kohl said. “We’re not out of it yet, we need some help from other teams, but we have to get on a run here.”
Their next chance to stop the skid will come on Wednesday, when they travel to the Twin Cities to face Concordia-St. Paul in an afternoon doubleheader.
Minnesota State 100 803 1 — 13 12 1
Wayne State 000 120 0 — 3 9 0
W: Brendan Knoll. L: Ryan Obrecht
—2B: (MS) Teddy Petersen, Ty Denzer; 3B: (WS) Eric Standish; HR: (MS) Joey Werner 2, Teddy Petersen