Bemidji State pulled off the upset.
The eighth-seeded Beavers beat top-seeded St. Cloud State University 9-3 in the first round of the NSIC baseball tournament Wednesday afternoon at Joe Faber Field.
The Huskies (31-8), the regular season conference champion, will play Concordia-St. Paul at 7 Wednesday in an elimination game at Faber.
“We never make it easy on ourselves in these tournaments,” SCSU senior shortstop Travis Cariveau said. “I think we have enough pitching to make it through the loser’s bracket. We have bulked-up pitching this year for a reason and now it has to show.”
The Beavers (23-20) roughed up SCSU starting pitcher Corey Fitzgerald. They scored three times in the first inning and then added five runs in the fifth.
Fitzgerald (4-1) went 4 1/3 innings and gave up seven runs on six hits while striking out one and walking three.
“It’s going to be a dogfight now,” SCSU head coach Pat Dolan said. “We have four All-Conference pitchers who are rested and still ready to go. Fitzgerald beat Bemidji up there, but there were no excuses for the way we played today.
“When you lose 9-3, you know you got your tails beat. It’s frustrating. But if there’s a team that can come back from this, it’s us.”
Bemidji State lefty Phil Bray (4-3) went eight innings and beat the Huskies for a second time in a week. He gave up two earned runs on six hits while striking out four and walking four. He threw 142 pitches.
“Bray was good. He kept everybody off-balance. I don’t know why we couldn’t figure him out,” Cariveau said. “He beat us up there, too. I think we’ll bounce back from this and be OK.”
St. Cloud State took three of four games at Bemidji State this past weekend to clinch the NSIC regular season title.
“I knew it was going to be a competitive game,” Dolan said. “But I didn’t think it would be like this. We’re conference champions. I think we’re a pretty good team. This was uncommon for us. A loss is a loss. This was one game out of 40 that we didn’t play well. Unfortunately it happened here.”
Garrett Fischer went 2-for-5 with an RBI for the Huskies and Cariveau went 2-for-4. Jaryd Marks went 2-for-5 with three RBI with a double for the Beavers and Zach Braun went 3-for-5.
Winona State beat Concordia-St. Paul 9-3 at Dick Putz Field to advance to play Bemidji State at 2 p.m. Friday in the winner’s bracket at Faber.