GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Freshman Andrew Thome (St. Cloud, Minn.) fired his second straight shutout and the Fighting Sioux offense belted three home runs as North Dakota defeated New York Institute of Technology 5-0 Friday at Kraft Field. Thome was perfect through five innings and yielded only three hits, while striking out a career-high 11 in the contest.
“I didn’t think Andrew could pitch much better than he did last week against Northern Colorado, but he sure did today,” UND head coach Jeff Dodson said. “He was really focused on location as a goal during the game and struck out 11 and walked none. He did not miss in the middle of the plate and anytime only three balls are hit out of the infield that is a pretty special performance.”
Freshman Jeff Campbell (Clearwater, Fla.) belted a solo home run in the fourth to give Thome all the run support he would need, but senior Kyle Bolander (Hermantown, Minn.) and freshman Alex Twenge (Minnetonka, Minn.) added two-run blasts in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
Thome, who tossed a four-hit shutout last Friday vs. Northern Colorado, did not allow a base runner until catcher Nick Sebastian led off the sixth with a single. After a sacrifice bunt moved Sebastian to second, centerfielder Robert Loftus reached on an infield single before the right-hander escaped his only trouble by getting Sebastian Grazziani on a comebacker to the mound.
After the slight scare, Bolander and Twenge gave their hurler a much more comfortable lead to work with in the bottom half of the sixth as the offense finally started getting to NYIT starter Jose Checo.
Bolander finished 3-for-3 adding a single and a double to go with his sixth home run of the season. Campbell’s opposite-field shot was his team-leading ninth of the season, while Twenge’s laser over the right-field wall was the first of his career.
Thome’s only other hit he allowed came in the ninth when Alex Angus led off the frame with a sharp single to center. He was quickly erased on a double play ball right back to Thome, who had five assists in the game. Thome and the Sioux defense were flawless, recording 15 groundball outs and just one fly out to go with his 11 punchouts.
Thome wrapped up the shutout with his 11th strikeout as he joined seven other Fighting Sioux pitchers with at least two shutouts in a season. J.J. Scheving is the only UND pitcher to toss three shutouts when he achieved that feat in 2004. The freshman has not allowed an earned run at Kraft Field this season in four starts, which spans 27.2 innings of work.
The Sioux will continue their four-game series against NYIT with a doubleheader on Saturday. UND will be wearing lavender wristbands during the doubleheader as part of a cancer awareness promotion at Kraft Field. First pitch for game one is set for 1 p.m.
– UND –