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ISSUE 117 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/12/2004

Baseball takes a pair at the Dome

By Ryan Maus
Staff Writer

Friday, March 12, 2004

The St. Olaf baseball team began their 2004 season on the right foot by sweeping a doubleheader from Upper Iowa University at the Metrodome last Wednesday night. The Oles took the first game, which started at about 10 p.m., 5-4. The second game only lasted 5 innings due to time constraints, but St. Olaf hung on for a 6-5 victory.

Its always exciting to finally get started, especially after practicing for five weeks inside, said head coach Matt McDonald after the games. We were certainly happy to start the season with two wins.

The first game was started by ace Charlie Rudd 04, who went four innings and allowed only one run on four hits while striking out six. He showed some signs of early-season rust with three hit batsmen and three walks, but was still effective in his first start.

However, due to some shoddy defense and mental mistakes, the Oles trailed 3-2 going into the bottom half of the seventh inning. Only a fortunate sequence of events allowed St. Olaf to escape with the victory.

With one out in the inning, Danny Johnson 04 and Larry Nava 05 both reached base with singles, putting men at first and second. Leadoff man Joe Pavelko 04 then hit a ground ball to shortstop, but the relay throw on the attempted double play sailed out of play. This allowed Johnson to score the game-tying run and Pavelko to advance to second. The very next batter, Brad Baglien 04, promptly ended the game with a single up the middle that scored Pavelko.

We did some things really well as a team, McDonald said, but we realize that we need to improve in a lot different areas& Upper Iowa played pretty well except for that one big mistake.

Pavelko was the offensive star for the Oles in the first game, smacking three extra-base hits to go along two runs scored and an RBI. Baglien was also 1-3 with two RBI.

I thought our experienced hitters did a good job of managing counts and putting the ball in play, McDonald said.

In the second game, which didnt start until after midnight, St. Olaf sent hard-throwing lefthander Eric Tobias 06 to the mound. Tobias struggled with some control issues early in the game but quickly settled down, striking out five without allowing a hit in his three innings of work. Another notable performance was turned in by Will Huepenbecker 05, who pitched a scoreless inning after missing nearly the entire 2003 season due to a shoulder injury. McDonald later expressed his satisfaction with the teams pitchers in both games.

We ran six pitchers out there and they all threw strikes, which is always an encouraging sign. It was good to get that many guys into a competitive situation.

At the plate, the Oles jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead after three innings of play. Baglien had two more hits, and Joe Levitt 06 went 2-2 with a double and a run scored. St. Olaf also scored three more runs in the bottom of the fifth, including a three-run triple by Nick Rost 07, but those runs will not be counted in the official statistics because the inning was not completed (due to time constraints).

The Oles wont hit the field again until March 20th, when they will compete in a tournament in Joplin, Missouri. That tournament marks the start of what is an eight-day, 11-game southern road trip for the St. Olaf baseball squad. The team will also play games in Texas and Illinois on the trip. The home opener will be on April 3 against St. Marys.

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