RiverHawks baseball looks to carry winning streak through the remainder of week
TNE Editor

RiverHawks baseball looks to carry winning streak through the remainder of week

Published 2/14/18

Austin Headlee

TNE Writer

The NSU RiverHawks baseball team played a doubleheader against the Rogers State University Wildcats. The RiverHawks were able to come home winning both games against the Wildcats as a result of great pitching, defense and offense from the RiverHawks. 

The RiverHawks entered the series 1-3 and gave the Wildcats their first two losses of the season. The Wildcats won their previous four matches before they faced the RiverHawks.

Dustin Berrong, senior pitcher from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., started the first game for the RiverHawks. Berrong led the team in a 5-2 win over the Wildcats. Jaxon Phipps, sophomore infielder from Nocona, Texas, hit a home run to give the RiverHawks their first score of the day during the third inning. It was a close game until the fifth inning when the RiverHawks scored four runs to take the lead. 

“I thought we pitched it very well,” said Parker Kruckenberg, NSU baseball assistant coach. “I thought in the first game our offense came together at the right time.”

The RiverHawks were able to get the first win thanks to their offense and pitching. The opening win set the tone for the RiverHawks going into their second game against the Wildcats.

“It all starts with the first game,” said Ben Strahm, junior pitcher from West Fargo, N.D. “Berrong goes out there, he throws a great game for us, gets us going and we get that 5-2 win. So, it takes the pressure off me. I got out there, I was in a groove and stuff just went well for us.”

Strahm started the second game of the doubleheader. He was able to generate 10 strikeouts and allowed only three hits in his eight innings of play when he recorded his first win of the season. The RiverHawks baseball head coach Jake Hendrick was impressed by Strahm’s pitching in their second game of the doubleheader. 

“He was able to have a lot of really efficient innings,” said Hendrick. “When you strike out 10 you worry about pitch count, but eight innings and 103 pitches, that’s very efficient. It was a great outing for him.”

The RiverHawks relied more on their defense and pitching in their second game. They were able to win 2-0 when they scored in the seventh and ninth innings. The team will ride the momentum gained from the RSU series into their upcoming games. 

“It’s cliché, but you just try to improve, you try to stay on top of the little things and do as good of a job as you can day in and day out,” said Hendrick “That’s really all that it’s about. The RSU series was something to build on. We won twice and so we feel good about that, we pitched and played good defense and we’ve really done that all year so that’s something that has to continue.” 

The RiverHawks team was scheduled to play the Wildcats again on Feb. 11, but the game has been postponed due to weather conditions. The game is rescheduled for Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. in Tahlequah.

The RiverHawks will play the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Rangers in their upcoming game. The Rangers have a 5-2 record heading into their matchup against the RiverHawks. 

The RiverHawks will need to overcome the Rangers’ lead pitcher Walker Wharton, redshirt senior from Ben Franklin, Texas. Wharton is a left-handed pitcher with a team-low 0.55 ERA. He also has two wins on the season and the second most strikeouts on the team with 12. 

The RiverHawks will play in a doubleheader against the University of Arkansas Fort-Smith Lions. The RiverHawks will look to give the Lions their first loss of the year. The Lions are currently 6-0. 

The RiverHawks must overcome another star pitcher when they face the Lions. The Lions senior pitcher Dawson Floyd from Muldrow is 2-0 as a starter for the Lions. Floyd is a right-handed pitcher who has allowed opposing batters to hit a .208 batting average. He has also struck out a team-high 16 batters.

The Lions have a good relief pitcher. Jordan Lawrence, senior pitcher from Fort Smith, Ark., has 10 strikeouts despite not a starting a single game. Lawrence has allowed only one hit this season. 

The RiverHawks baseball is off to a positive start, but they must continue to improve as the season goes on. Kruckenberg believes the team has the opportunity to improve and be a winning team. 

“I think each time you get an opportunity to go out and play we just have to keep trying to get better at the things that maybe we didn’t do great before,” said Kruckenberg. “For us, every game I want us to come out with really good energy and just execute the fundamentals and put pressure on the other team.”

The RiverHawks will continue to improve throughout the season. The RiverHawks play the Rangers at 1 p.m. on Feb. 14 at Thomas C. Rousey Field in Tahlequah. The RiverHawks will then play the Lions in a doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. on Feb. 17 at the Recreation and Wellness Center in Springdale, Ark.



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