Baseball struggles against Grand Canyon

Zach Muckenhirn delivers a pitch again Grand Canyon University this past Friday at Kraft field. Photo by Nick Nelson/The Dakota Student.

The Fighting Hawks fell to Grand Canyon University three times this weekend at a cold and windy Kraft Field.

This weekend marked the beginning of an important eight- game home stand for the Fighting Hawks.

“It’s big, we’ve been on the road almost all year,” head coach Jeff Dodson said. “I think it’s great for our kids to get back and get caught up on school work, and rest in general, to get everything, mind and body ready for competition.”

The GCU Antelopes came out hot, and stayed hot for the entirety of the series. They scored a combined 31 runs in three games.

In game one Friday evening, Zach Muckenhirn had a decent outing giving up six runs in his eight innings of work. GCU has scored eight or more runs 12 times this season.

After Muckenhirn had surrendered two hits to start the ninth inning, he was relieved by the bullpen as he was at a season-high 131 pitches. He left with the score at 4-4. The bullpen proceeded to give up five runs to make it 9-4 after a key throwing error started a rally for the Antelopes.

Freshman Miles Lewis continued his excellent season adding three hits in the game. Tyler Midas and Hayden May each had a run batted in as well.

Saturday afternoon felt more like March 23 than April 23 as it was a cold, windy and rainy day.

Dodson would not blame the loss on poor weather though.

“Any time you have to deal with weather, both teams have to play in it,” Dodson said “That’s something you can’t hang your hat on for a good or bad performance.”

Big right-hander Brett DeGagne’ got the start for the Fighting Hawks on Saturday a and had a good outing, giving up three runs, two from long balls, in his six innings of work.

GCU’s pitcher, Tyler Wyatt, had a very solid day, pitching a shut out into the ninth inning. He was chased after Lewis led off the inning with a single. Connor Trygstad promptly laced a single back up the middle to knock Wyatt out of the ball game.

The Fighting Hawks rally in the ninth inning proved to be too little, too late as they could only plate two runs to make the final score 8-2.

Even though the Hawks were down, they did not roll over at the end of the game. They went down fighting.

“We’ve never had a problem with effort since day one,” Dodson said. “I thought the effort was good today, we just got beat.”

Sunday was more of the same with poor weather and a barrage of runs and hits from the Antelopes.

The Antelopes started the game off hot as they had four straight hits to start the game in the first inning and scored two runs.

The Fighting Hawks were able to keep the game close in the first half of the ballgame. Lewis plated a run for the Hawks in the bottom of the third inning to make the score 3-1.

The next inning, GCU would score another run to make it 4-1 and looked poised to put more runs up on the board. A timely double play ended the inning for the Antelopes.

Junior McKay McNair was the starter for UND and looked like he had finally settled in as he retired the Antelopes in order in the fifth and sixth innings preserving the 4-1 score.

The seventh inning was where it all unravelled for UND. Luke Hansen came in to the game to relieve McNair and gave up two hits and a walk, loading the bases. That was just the start of a long inning for the Fighting Hawks.

After Hansen came in, the Hawks brought in four pitchers in the inning who combined to give up 10 runs. They walked in six of the 10 runs and surrendered eight walks and five hits total in the inning.

“We walked eight guys in the inning, It’s hard to recover from that,” Dodson said.

The Hawks were able to muster a run in the bottom of the 7th inning on a Ben Reznicek fielder’s choice, but it was not enough, and the game ended after seven innings.

The Fighting Hawks return to action 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, at Kraft Field as they take on the University of Minnesota Crookston.