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Spartans’ struggles continue against NIACC

Published: Monday, April 1, 2013 10:48 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 1, 2013 10:56 a.m. CDT
Southwestern freshman Sawyer Ocheltree lines up an RBI single during the fourth inning of Southwestern's 6-3 loss to NIACC here on Sunday.

Southwestern’s baseball team continued to struggle with “simple things” as the Spartans dropped three of four games against NIACC here on Saturday and Sunday.

The Spartans dropped the first contest on Saturday 9-0 before bouncing back to pick up a 5-4 win over the Trojans in the nightcap. But NIACC won both contests on Sunday, 6-3 and 16-1.

“The first five or six games we played on the year, we were incredibly clean on defense and did a great job of situational hitting,” head coach Brian “Bull” Smith said. “I think overall on the year, so far, we’ve pitched well. Yesterday in the 9-0 loss and even in the game we won, we couldn’t do simple things like catch and throw the baseball or move runners.”

Those struggles continued into Sunday as a throwing error with two outs in the third inning led to a four-run rally by NIACC, breaking the first game of the day open. The Trojans went on to win 6-3.

With Southwestern short on arms because of injuries, sophomore Seth Lieser made his first career college start, and pitched well except for the four-run outburst.

“He really did well, considering that’s his first college start,” Smith said. “He’s a little bit funky, old-school windup, and he keeps guys off balance and throws strikes. We’ve just got to play better behind him. When we’re short on arms, we can’t keep extending pitchers.”

The Spartans struggled to bring baserunners around to score, leaving runners in scoring position multiple times over the weekend.

“We left way too many opportunities offensively,” Smith said. “There was twice yesterday, back-to-back innings we got leadoff triples and couldn’t score. We had bases loaded and nobody out and got one run. We had first and third with one out and couldn’t score.”

Overall, Smith said he thought Dillon Coates hit the ball well over the weekend.

“I know on Saturday he was 4-7 with I think probably three RBI and a couple of triples,” he said. “He had a double mixed in there and had a triple (Sunday).

“Our 3-4-5 hitters, we did an OK job. When we got to the bottom of the order we couldn’t get any production at all. We’ll have to figure it out.”

Injury update

Redshirt freshman Ethan Westphal, who injured his arm on Thursday against Iowa Western, is still battling soreness in his elbow.

Smith said Westphal’s MRI has been moved back until Wednesday, and that it will be “wait and see” with the injury, but he said he is hoping for a miracle.

Aside from being short on pitchers with the injury, Smith noted that it hurts not having Westphal in the lineup because he has to move players around now.

Southwestern (5-9) returns to action Tuesday at home against Indian Hills for a single nine-inning game. First pitch is schedule for 2 p.m.

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