DECORAH - Luther got a solo home run in the seventh inning of game two which broke a 1-1 tie and later added two more runs in the eighth to take a three-run lead, and the Norse would go on to win the nightcap of Friday's American Rivers Conference doubleheader after Buena Vista took the opener, 9-6.
The split keeps BVU two games back of the Norse in the race for second in the league standings and a first round bye in the upcoming conference tournament. The final game of the series is currently scheduled for Sunday afternoon, weather permitting.
BVU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning of game one, but had to trouble slowing down the Norse in the early going. Luther came back in the bottom of the first with two runs to make it a one-run contest before the Beavers got both runs back in the second for a 5-2 margin. The Norse later cut the deficit down to 5-4 with two in the third, and after BVU added one in the fourth, came back with two in the fifth to pull even at 6-6. From there, the Beavers were able to chalk up one run in the sixth and two more insurance runs in the eighth.
Joe Rock drove in three runs for BVU, including a big two-run single in the second. He finished with two hits and also scored a run. Bryce Rheault had a team-leading three hits in the contest as Peyton Renning doubled and tallied two hits and a pair of runs scored. Tyler Stoltze also doubled and scored a team-high three runs.
Eric LaRue came out of the bullpen to earn his second win of the year. The right hander pitched four strong innings, allowing just two runs and four hits while striking out four and walking only one. Nick Henrichs got the start and was charged with four runs and six hits while walking three. Gage Smart picked up his fifth save of the year after pitching the final two innings and striking out two.
The nightcap was a pitcher's duel throughout with the game tied 1-1 through six innings. Renning doubled home Noah Paper in the third inning for the game's first run before Luther came back in the bottom half to get an RBI groundout. The Norse then took their first lead of the afternoon with a solo home run with one out in the seventh before plating to key insurance runs in the eighth.
BVU tried to mount a rally in the ninth with the top of the order up to start the frame. Renning and Rheault both singled to get things started, but a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a fielder's choice ended the threat and the game.
Renning was 3-for-4 in the game with two more doubles and sets a new career-high with 12 on the year. It's also his fourth multi-hit game over the last six outings, and he's now tied his career-high with 51 total hits on the year.
BVU was held to only seven hits in the game after being in double digits in its previous six games (all wins).
Egan Bonde got the start and gave the team six strong innings, allowing just the one run (unearned) and four hits while walking one and striking out two. Austin Scott suffered the loss in relief, as he was charged with three runs and three hits over 1.2 innings.
The Beavers dip to fourth overall in the league standings after Dubuque swept a doubleheader from Nebraska Wesleyan to move into sole posession of third - just one game in front of BVU and one game back of the Norse. The Beavers and Spartans will meet in Storm Lake for a three-game series to wrap up the regular season next Friday and Saturday.
Buena Vista and Luther are scheduled to wrap up this series at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.