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ISSUE 117 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/7/2004

Baseball puckers up, splits with MIAC foes

By Ryan Maus
Staff Writer


Friday, May 7, 2004

In traditional baseball circles, the old adage states that splitting [a doubleheader] is like kissing your sister. It is not the worst thing imaginable, but nonetheless, it is something you would rather avoid. Unfortunately, the St. Olaf baseball team has been doing a lot of puckering up lately, as they split doubleheaders last week with both Hamline and Concordia.

The Oles traveled to Hamline last Wednesday to take on the Pipers, who defeated them by a score of 5-2 in game one. Hamline, a middle-of-the-pack team fighting to stay in playoff contention, held St. Olaf to five singles and a double while committing only one error. Ace Charlie Ruud 04 battled through five and two-thirds innings, allowing seven hits and only two earned runs. Ruud took the tough luck loss, dropping his record to 7-2, as three Ole errors lead to three unearned runs for the Pipers.

After the disappointing loss, the team came out ready to play in game two. The starting lineup looked a little different, as head coach Matt McDonald sat three regulars, but starter Will Huepenbecker 05 would quickly turn that into a moot point. Huepenbecker was dominant, scattering six hits over six innings while striking out five in a 7-1 victory. Needless to say, McDonald was impressed with the pitchers performance.

Huepenbecker just picked up where he left off in his last outing against St. Johns [a 6-5 Ole victory], the head coach said. He and Eric Tobias have each gotten better with every outing. On Wednesday, Will looked like one of the top pitchers in the conference.

Offensively, St. Olaf was able to string some hits together and erupted for five runs in the third inning. Brad Baglien 04 drove home two with a double, and first years Eric Carlson and Josh Schultheis each had RBI singles to help stake the Oles to a 5-0 lead. Danny Johnson 04 would add a two-run homer in the fifth, his team-leading fourth of the season.

We played a bunch of different guys [in game two], and they responded, McDonald said. We were more aggressive at the plate than we were in the first game and it paid off. You have to tip your cap to Hamline in the first game- they came out and beat our ace, but we also had a very lethargic offensive effort.

On Saturday, St. Olaf was in Moorhead to take on conference-leading Concordia. To ease the strain caused by the four-hour drive, the team made the trip Friday and stayed in a nearby hotel.

The strategy paid off in game one, as the well-rested Oles defeated the Cobbers 6-1. Tobias pitched all seven innings to earn the victory, allowing four hits and striking out seven. Tobias control proble-ms  he had five walks and a hit batsman  led to some jams, but he made the big pitches when it counted in going the distance.

On offense, St. Olaf took advantage of two key Concordia errors to score five unearned runs in the second inning. Evan Klefsaas 07, starting only his seventh game of the season, connected on a clutch 2-RBI triple and Nick Rost 07, filling in at shortstop for the injured Bret Thoreson 06, soon followed with an RBI single of his own. The next batter, Joe Pavelko 04, rounded out the scoring with a 2-RBI double to give the Oles the big lead they would not relinquish. McDonald was especially pleased with the contributions Klefsaas, 3-6 on the day, and Rost were able to make towards the victory.

Theyre both freshmen, each playing positions where you have to be a leader, shortstop and catcher, Mc-Donald said. It says a lot about these guys that theyre able to step up in the heat of a MIAC pennant race and perform as well as they have.

Game two did not work out as well for St. Olaf as they lost 5-3. The Oles found themselves down 5-1 after the fourth, and could not muster a prolonged late-inning rally. Hit batsmen, five on the day for St. Olaf, and errors put the Oles down early, and Concordia starter Brian Romsa did the rest in a complete game victory. The lone offensive standout was Pavelko, who went 2-3 with a solo home run. Overall, St. Olaf was satisfied with the split.

Looking at the big picture, we had to get at least one, McDonald said. If we would have done just a couple of things differently in the second game we could have swept them, but it just didnt happen.

As it stands, the Oles are in third place in the MIAC with an 11-5 conference record. They only need one more win to clinch a spot in the MIAC tournament, and have home games this week against second-place St. Thomas on Wednesday, and Augsburg on Saturday. The MIAC tournament will once again be hosted by Northfield and Dundas at Sechler Park and is scheduled for May 14-16.





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