BOISE — The pitching of freshman Stu Flesland was the story Tuesday. Boise State’s powerful offense continues to be the story of the season.
The left-hander Flesland allowed just two hits in 6 1/3 shutout innings while striking out seven to earn his first collegiate win in Boise State’s 7-1 victory over visiting Niagara at Memorial Stadium.
The offense, meanwhile, had 12 hits and scored seven more runs. The Broncos are now averaging 6.8 runs in 13 games since returning to the diamond for the first time in 40 years.
Boise State (8-5) will finish an 11-game home stand tonight in the series finale against Niagara. First pitch at Memorial Stadium is set for 6:35 p.m.
But the headline from Tuesday was Flesland, who helped save the bullpen for a Boise State team playing its sixth game in the past five days with seven more games in the next eight days still ahead.
“He picked us up big time,” Boise State coach Gary Van Tol said. “Playing this many games and the stretch we’re in, managing the pitching staff is the top priority and we needed a solid start from him. He set the tone for us and for a freshman and what we needed out of him, he gave us everything and more.”
In three previous appearances this season, the lanky 6-foot-5, 200-pound left-hander had allowed five runs and seven hits in just 4 1/3 innings. In his first collegiate outing at Texas on Feb. 23, he gave up a walk-off home run and took the loss.
He entered Tuesday’s game with an ugly 10.38 ERA, but that number plummeted to a much more respectable 4.22 by the time he walked off the field Tuesday.
Flesland did walk three and hit a man, but worked out of jams in the second, fourth and sixth innings to keep the Purple Eagles off the scoreboard.
“It feels great,” Flesland said. “I just really attacked the zone with fastballs and got ahead in the count as much as I could and when I got ahead I worked in my other pitches and was able to be successful.”
But the other obvious story line is the offense. The Broncos scored at least nine runs in each of the four previous games, and had seven more Tuesday against Niagara.
Boise State took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Geon Hyoung Kim doubled and came around to score on an RBI single from Michael Hicks. The Broncos made it 2-0 in the fourth on a bases loaded hit from Reagan Doss that scored Joe Yorke from third.
Doss then reached base on an error in the sixth inning and advanced to third base before scoring on a balk by Niagara pitcher Tyler Prospero to put the Broncos up 3-0.
Maybe the only negative of late?
Kim was picked off at first base after being caught in a rundown in the third inning, Cory Meyer was picked off at first base in the fifth inning and Kim was doubled off first in the sixth after failing to get back to the base in time after a flyout to right field.
“We need to clean that up,” Van Tol said.
Adding injury to insult, Meyer suffered what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury while attempting to dive back into first base. He grabbed his left shoulder and was on the ground for several minutes before being helped off. Meyer, the starting catcher and a transfer from Washington State, previously battled a bad back injury before arriving at Boise State.
“He says he’s fine, it was his non-throwing shoulder, which is a positive,” Van Tol said. “He hurt his shoulder, but we’re not too concerned it’s going to keep him out for an extended period of time. It will probably be sore tomorrow.”
Boise State extended the lead to 4-0 in the seventh inning when Hicks doubled off the wall to start the inning. Myles Harris pinch ran for Hicks and scored on a bases loaded walk by Matthew Farman.
The Broncos tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning on an RBI single from Dawson Martin, a run-scoring double from Grant Gorrell and an RBI hit by Yorke to make it 7-0.
The scary thing?
It could have been much worse. Boise State had runners on base in every inning and left 12 runners on base for the game.
In two games against Niagara, the Broncos have 27 hits and 16 runs.
“It’s been awesome to be part of this and see all the guys get hot at the same time,” Hicks said. “All of the younger guys, the sticks are coming alive and it’s been good to see the confidence rolling all the way down the lineup.”