Errors bite Beavers in losses to Duluth

Minot State owned a pair of two-run leads during its Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader against Minnesota-Duluth on Friday, but costly errors erased them both.

The Beavers were swept by the Bulldogs at Herb Parker Stadium, 6-3 in Game 1 and 7-2 in Game 2.

Not far removed from a 12-day span in which the team won 10 of 11 NSIC games, MSU has now dropped five of its last six.

“We just have to come together as a team and realize that we can do it,” MSU junior pitcher Mindy Lorimor said. “Everyone kind of gets down at this time, but we know we have the ability, we know we have the talent. We just have to come back from this, and as soon as we get a win, we can build off of that, get the momentum going again.”

Errors plagued the Beavers in both games.

MSU junior catcher Darlene Truong had a clear chance in Game 1 to record the second out of the third inning. UMD outfielder Ashley Schilling popped up a pitch behind the plate, but it bounced out of Truong’s glove.

Two pitches later, Schilling tied the game up with a two-run bomb.

“Defensively, we didn’t play ball,” said MSU coach Bill Triplett, who was ejected after the fifth inning of Game 2. “We dropped balls in the outfield, we threw balls away. We just didn’t make plays for our pitchers.

“It’s unfortunate. I thought we pitched fairly well all day, but we just didn’t make the plays defensively, and that hurts.”

Lorimor started in the circle in Game 1. After allowing Schilling’s home run in the third, Lorimor settled back down.

With the game knotted at two in the sixth inning, the Bulldog bats reappeared.

UMD reeled off three doubles in its first four at-bats of the frame, giving the visitors a 4-2 lead with one out and a runner in scoring position.

Lorimor, MSU’s 17-game winner, left the game with the bases loaded.

By the time Triplett brought freshman Jenn Spencer to the circle in relief, the Beavers trailed by four.

“I think they were relentless,” UMD coach Jen Banford said of her hitters. “They didn’t let being down on the scoreboard get them down, and I think they did a great job of getting good at-bats from beginning to end.”

Defensive mistakes persisted for the Beavers in Game 2, particularly in the fifth inning.

With Jen Dixon on the mound, having relieved Alyssa Cornejo after 3 1/3 innings of scoreless work, UMD took full advantage of MSU’s defensive struggles. The howling wind contributed to three errors by Beaver outfielders, including two from centerfielder Katie Backes.

The Bulldogs scored six in the fourth inning. They added another in the seventh with a Megan Mullen home run to dead-center field.

“When we’ve been down, we usually haven’t come back like this,” Banford said. “It’s a good turning point for us heading toward the end of the season.”

MSU is seventh in the NSIC standings after Friday’s doubleheader. Only the top 10 qualify for the NSIC tournament.

The Beavers host St. Cloud State at 2 and 4 p.m. today at Herb Parker Stadium.

“Tomorrow is a whole new day,” Triplett said. “We just need to win some games.”

Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.