STANFORD, Calif. — The game took a few hours but the end of North Dakota State's record-setting baseball season came early.
California Irvine scored nine runs in the first two innings and Anteaters starter Trenton Denholm effectively shut down the Bison offense in a 18-3 win in an NCAA Stanford Regional elimination game Sunday at Sunken Diamond.
"Got off to a rough start, no other way to put it," said Bison head coach Tod Brown. "We got down in hole too much and it was too much to get reenergized and get back into it."
The Bison came into the game confident after Saturday's convincing 6-1 win over Nevada, NDSU's first tournament victory in its Division I era. But any hopes of earning a second win were dashed quickly.
Irvine's Thomas McCaffrey and Jacob Castro stroked run-scoring singles and Dillon Tatum followed with a three-run home run in a five-run first inning.
In the second inning, Nathan Church hit a lead-off homer, Connor McGuire singled in two runs and Luke Spillane singled in a fourth to make it 9-0 Anteaters. The way Denholm was pitching, it was essentially game over.
Church finished with three hits, including two home runs, and four RBI. Tatum also drove in four runs. Denholm allowed a run on six hits in 7-1/3 innings to get the win. The Anteaters face a rematch with Stanford for the regional championship.
NDSU's Bennett Hostetler was 3-for-4 and drove in a run and Jake Malec was 2-for-3 and scored a run.
The Bison ended their best Division I season 42-19, the most wins in program history, and earned their NCAA berth winning the Summit League championship. Hostetler was named the league's Player of the Year.
"The toughest thing is," Brown said, "we're 42-19 to finish the season and today was a tough day. I'm not going to let any thoughts go to anything other than just enjoying the moment of what this team accomplished this season."