DSU Athletics
DSU Athletics

DENVER — Cade Spurlin homered and drove in a career-high five runs to help rally Dixie State past RMAC-leading MSU Denver, 9-8, in the first game of a crucial four-game series Friday afternoon at the Regency Athletic Complex. The win snapped DSU’s season-long three-game losing skid as the Trailblazers improved to 24-11 overall, 14-7 in RMAC play.

Dixie State ambushed the Roadrunners for three first-inning runs and tacked on another in the second to race to an early 4-1 lead. Lane Pritchard led off the game with his third home run in five games, while Jake Brown and Kaid Urban delivered consecutive RBI-singles with two outs later in the frame, to give the Trailblazers a quick three-run cushion.

After MSUD (23-10/16-5 RMAC) scored in the home half the first, Spurlin collected his first RBI in the second with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. The early run support bolstered a strong start by senior right-hander Jayden Murray (ND), who fanned four Roadrunners and scattered two runs and seven hits over his first four innings of work.

However MSUD would solve Murray in the home fifth as the Roadrunners erupted for six runs, four of which came off of the Trailblazer hurler, as they erased the deficit and bolted to an 8-4 advantage.

The Trailblazers counter-punched with three runs of their own in the sixth, all of which came with two outs. Pritchard was plunked by a pitch and Jake Engel singled ahead of Spurlin, who cleared the bases with his sixth home run of the season to pull DSU to within a run at 8-7.

Meanwhile the DSU bullpen bent but did not break as three relievers combined to keep it a one-run game over the next three innings, including escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. Then the Blazer eighth, Spurlin cashed in a lead-off walk to Joe Raymond with a clutch two-out single to knot the game at 8-8.

In the DSU ninth, the Trailblazers plated the go-ahead run without benefit of a hit as the Roadrunner bullpen issued four walks, three of which came after two outs, including a bases-loaded free pass to Pritchard to force in the eventual game-winning tally.

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Dixie State closer Brayden Bonner (S, 8) came on and struck out the first two Roadrunners he faced in the home ninth before Matt Malkin reached with a double. Draven Adame then stepped up and singled through the left side, which was corralled by outfielder Brody Clifford, who fired a strike to reserve catcher Braden Stutzman to cut down Malkin at the plate to end the game.

Spurlin finished the day going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, while Pritchard and Engel each tallied two hits as DSU pounded out 11 safeties in the game. Junior reliever Colton Harris (W, 4-1) earned his fourth victory of the season out the Blazer bullpen as he fired 1.1 innings of one-hit relief with a strikeout.

The two teams will continue their four-game series with a pair of seven-inning games on Saturday beginning 1 p.m.