The St. Olaf baseball team battled the elements in each of their most recent MIAC doubleheaders but still went 3-1 in key conference matchups with Gustavus and Hamline. The Oles split a rescheduled doubleheader with the Gusties Sunday afternoon (inclement weather moved the games from Saturday) and then fought through sleet and rain Tuesday afternoon in a sweep of the Pipers.
High winds and freezing temperatures pushed the Gustavus games back a day, but the extra rest wasnt enough for the Oles to earn a coveted sweep. The team took game one 5-3 behind yet another stellar pitching performance from Will Huepenbecker 06, but uncharacteristically blew a seven-run lead late in game two and lost 9-8.
Huepenbecker improved his record to 5-2 on the season by allowing one earned run and scattering six hits in seven innings of work. The Oles did most of their damage offensively in the fifth, when both Tony DeLaHunt 05 and Chris Terrazas 07 connected on home runs. DeLaHunts two-run shot was his second of the year, as was Terrazas solo blast.
I got a fastball near the middle of the plate and just drove it, Terrazas said. When the pitcher makes a mistake like that, you have to take advantage of it.
It was their well-played victory in game one that made the Oles game two collapse all the more disheartening. St. Olaf built leads of 7-0 and 8-1 against Gustavus ace Andy Schmidt, who had previously allowed just four earned runs in his last 26 innings pitched. DeLaHunt went 4-4 with his second homer of the day and Andrew Schmiesing 08 hit his third home run of the season in the fifth.
In the bottom half of the sixth inning, however, things fell apart for the visiting Oles. Starter Eric Tobias 06 was replaced in favor of Dan Hansen 05 after Tobias allowed two singles, a wild pitch and a walk, but Hansen fared no better: he allowed four runs while recording just two outs. By the time the inning ended, St. Olafs seven-run lead had become a one-run deficit. The team went down in order in the seventh inning.
It was a gut-wrenching loss, but the key is to come back strong next time, Terrazas said.
The Oles did just that Tuesday afternoon against Hamline, soundly defeating the struggling Pipers twice at Mark Almli Field. First-year Paul Johnson was masterful in game one, thowing a complete game, three-hit shutout in the 7-0 victory. It was Johnsons fifth victory of the season and his second shutout. Josh Maus 08, batting in the lead-off spot for the first time this season, got the Oles started offensively in the second with a two-out, two-run triple. Josh Schultheis 07 also went 3-3 with a double and a two-RBI single in the fifth.
Game two saw the Oles jump out to an early lead and never look back, as they took advantage of two Hamline errors en route to a 14-3 victory. Maus went 4-4 with three more RBIs, and Dan OMalley 06 went the distance for his fourth win of the season.
With Sundays and Tuesdays conference victories, the Oles improved their MIAC record to 10-4, putting them in second place in the conference standings. St. Thomas sits at the top of the MIAC with a 12-2 mark.
The Oles continue their drive towards a conference title Saturday when the yhost the Concordia Cobbers at Mark Almli Field. First pitch will be at 1 p.m.