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Bulldogs report: Mavericks send UMD out of softball tournament

Barring a surprising shift in the Central Region rankings, the Bulldogs' season is over.

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ROCHESTER — Minnesota Duluth's attempt to make a run through the elimination bracket of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference softball tournament reached a dead end Friday at the hands of No. 14-ranked Minnesota State Mankato.

The Mavericks defeated the Bulldogs 3-2 in an elimination game after UMD bounced Southwest Minnesota State 1-0 earlier in the day.

UMD fell behind 3-0 over the middle innings but tried to rally to save their season much like they did on Thursday vs. Wayne State. In the top of the seventh, UMD brought the tying run to the plate with two on and two out. Kat Burkhardt then singled to rightfield, driving in two runs and putting the tying run on the basepaths. At this point, the Mavericks brought NSIC Pitcher of the Year Mackenzie Ward to the circle. Ward had been roughed up earlier in the day when Winona State sent MSUM to the elimination bracket, but she struck out Dea DeLeon to end the game.

Burkhardt had two singles for UMD, which totaled five hits.

Lauren Dixon took the loss for UMD, allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits in six innings. She struck out seven.

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Earlier in the day, Sam Pederson blanked the Mustangs on four hits to end their season, striking out six and walking three.

The only run of the game came from a third-inning RBI single from Kiana Bender (Cloquet). Six Bulldogs had one hit apiece.

UMD entered the tournament in 10th in the NCAA Central Region rankings. Barring a surprising shift into the top eight, the Bulldogs' season will end with a record of 39-16.

BASEBALL

Bulldogs split with Beavers

Minnesota Duluth mathematically assured itself of a place in the NSIC baseball tournament next weekend, though a doubleheader split at last-place Bemidji State means the Bulldogs will be doing a lot of jockeying for position on the final day of the regular season.

The Bulldogs lost game one 5-4 before bouncing back in an authoritative 14-1 game two victory.

At 15-16 in league play (21-23 overall), UMD can finish anywhere between fifth and eighth in the final standings depending upon results Saturday for Winona State (13-12), Sioux Falls (17-18) and Mary (16-17).

UMD led game one 4-0 after a two-run double from Trevor Gustafson and a two-run homer from Brodie Paulson in the third frame, but gave up the last five runs of the game, particularly a three-run homer in the fourth from BSU's John Perkins.

Gustafson, who went 2-for-4, was the only Bulldog with multiple hits. Ben Shepard took the loss, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in five innings. He fanned five and walked two.

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UMD jumped all over the Beavers (6-39, 3-28 NSIC) in game two. Paulson, Jack Puder and Tim Pokornowski (Cloquet) all homered in the first three innings, as UMD did all the scoring after the Beavers pushed a run across in the first.

Pokornowski finished 5-for-6 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Puder went 4-for-6 and drove in three, while Paulson and Alex Wattermann had two hits apiece.

Chad Fox was the winning pitcher, allowing a run on four hits in five innings with four strikeouts and a walk. Eric Hinnenkamp pitched three hitless innings for a save.

UMD and BSU conclude the regular season at noon Saturday in Bemidji.

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