MANKATO – Phil Imholte singled in Brandon Arnold in the bottom of the ninth inning to give St. Cloud State a 2-1 win over Southern Arkansas at the Division II Central Region baseball tournament late Friday night.
The Huskies advance to play Minnesota State-Mankato at 1 p.m. today in a winner’s bracket game. It’s the first time the two rivals have faced each other this season.
Imholte finished 1-for-5 and had some frustrating at-bats throughout the game.
“It felt good to get that hit,” Imholte said. “Our team has done such a great job of staying together. We fought the entire way. Southern Arkansas had some tough pitchers. I was just trying to make the most of my opportunity. Arnold did a great job of coming into score.”
MSU-Mankato beat Missouri Western earlier in the day Friday to advance. Southern Arkansas takes on Central Missouri in an elimination game at 3:30 today.
Imholte’s game-winner came off Southern Arkansas relief pitcher Justin Thomas. St. Cloud State’s Sean Borman began the inning with a walk and was pinch run for by Arnold. After a sacrifice by Michael Jurgella, Travis Cariveau was intentionally walked.
Following a Travis Enger strikeout, Imholte delivered in the clutch with a single to right field. There was a play at the plate, but the ball skipped by the Southern Arkansas catcher to allow Arnold to score.
Imholte got a fastball from Thomas, who was saddled with the loss.
“Arnold’s our fastest guy on the team,” Imholte said. “But this game doesn’t get won without Kyle Fischer. He deserves a lot of credit.”
Kyle Fischer threw a complete game to earn the win. He allowed nine hits, walked two, gave up one unearned run and struck out 11.
“That’s what we expect out of Kyle,” SCSU head coach Pat Dolan said. “He’s a big-game pitcher. He was a bulldog tonight and threw a heck of a game.
“We expect big things out of Imholte, too. We do out of all of our seniors. I’m so happy for him. That’s who we want up in that spot.”
Garrett Fischer went 2-for-4 for the Huskies, Borman went 2-for-3 and Jurgella went 2-for-2.
Imholte’s excited to play Mankato today.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “Playing them in the winner’s bracket is extra special.”
St. Cloud State left-hander Chris Kubitz will get the start on the mound today against Mankato.
“He’s thrown well against Mankato in the past,” Dolan said of Kubitz. “We feel good about having him start and having Reese Gregory in relief. It’s a big one. Whoever wins that one is in the driver’s seat.
“We’ve lost to Mankato twice in this situation before. I think we’ve learned from that. It’s going to be really competitive. We’re a step closer to the World Series.”