By: Kyle Gulbrandson
The University of Sioux Falls baseball team traveled to Pueblo, Colorado this weekend to open up the season. The team opened up play against Montana State Billings University and Colorado State Pueblo University at Rawlings Field, located on the campus of Colorado State Pueblo University.
The Cougars first game was on Friday morning against Montana State Billings. The contest was slated for 11 a.m. but was pushed back an hour due to cold weather conditions. Matt Graham, a redshirt junior pitcher for the Cougars, gave it his all on the mound going 6 innings, allowing only one run, while striking out nine. The team took the loss after a late comeback by MSUB, 8-5.
Saturday morning, the Cougars took the field against Colorado State Pueblo. The bats of the Cougars were quiet as they were held to just 2 hits on the game and found themselves on the wrong side of the contest, losing 5-0.
The final contest was on Sunday morning as the University of Sioux Falls squared off again with Montana State Billings. The bats were on fire and tallied 5 runs in the first, third, and sixth innings. Led by Grant Lung, Ryan Bernardy, and Brennan Albert, who each tallied three hits. The Cougars took the final game of the road trip 17-3.
Following the road trip, I had the chance to talk to junior shortstop Grant Lung and senior outfielder Alex Robinson on how they felt the team did and what we can expect for the season.
Grant Lung, a junior shortstop from Peoria, Arizona expressed his thoughts, “I think coming into this year we didn’t really know what to expect with all of the new guys we had come in but we were excited. We played well in the first game but we weren’t able to finish in the end which is tough but after coming down to Colorado the last two years for our season openers, we played tremendously well. Obviously we fell short in the second game as well, which is tough after a great outing by “Maz” (Redshirt Freshman Andrew Mazlowski). On Sunday we came in with some fire not wanting to lose all three games and that showed. The offense came alive right from the get-go and our pitching was outstanding. We got a big win that we needed before a long bus ride home. I think this team is different from years past and there will be eyes looking at us real soon at what we can do.”
Alex Robinson, a senior from Antioch, California also had some words, “After being in this program for the last three years, the chemistry of our team this year has completely changed. In years past this team has lacked a competitive edge but this year that is not the case. Even though we went 1-2 this weekend the confidence and our competitiveness was evident. Both of the teams that we played had a couple of games under their belt coming into this weekend and this was our first time being outside since the fall. Our starting pitchers were dominant in all three games which was really exciting. Our offense struggled the first two games then exploded in our final game of the weekend which gave us a 17-3 win. I’m excited for the rest of the season, I think this team can make a big statement in the NSIC.”
The Cougars are back in action on Feb. 28- Feb. 29, as they travel to Denver, Colorado to take on Metro State University.