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ISSUE 118 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/13/2005

Baseball eyes MIAC title run

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor

Friday, May 13, 2005

Over the past three and a half months, the St. Olaf baseball team has played 38 games, accumulated nearly 4000 miles in traveling distance, and logged well over 200 hours of practice time. Yet in the end, the previous 100 days have been little more than a prelude for the next two.

The Oles closed out their regular season this past week, splitting doubleheaders with St. Scholastica and St. Mary’s, and now stand ready to take on the best the conference has to offer in this weekend’s MIAC tournament. St. Olaf finished with a conference record of 13-7, good enough for the tournament’s second seed behind regular season champion St. Thomas, and will take on the third-seeded Concordia Cobbers on Friday afternoon.

Last Thursday, the Oles made the three-hour trek to Duluth, Minn. to take on the nine-time Upper Midwest Conference Champion Saints. Andy Dass ‘08 was the tough-luck loser in game one, pitching seven innings of one-run ball in the team’s 2-1, nine-inning loss. Game two was a five-inning rain-shortened affair, with the Oles squeaking out a 4-3 victory. Chris Terrazas ’07 went 3-for-3 and had a two-run double in the team’s four-run fourth inning.

Sunday, St. Olaf made yet another lengthy road trip, this one to Winona, Minn. for their regular season-ending matchup with St. Mary’s. The Oles blew a 3-1 lead in game one, as a pair of defensive mishaps allowed the Cardinals to score twice in the bottom half of the seventh and escape with a 4-3 victory.

The Oles gained some measure of redemption in the second game of the day, trouncing St. Mary’s 11-0. Josh Maus ’08 had two RBIs and Andrew Schmiesing ’08 had three on the day. Starter Eric Tobias ’06 earned his third victory of the season, throwing six shutout innings.

“It was disappointing not to get the sweep,” pitcher Matt Green ‘05 said about the team’s split with the Cardinals. “But we played well in game two, which should be a momentum booster going into the playoffs.”

St. Olaf now turns its full attention to the sixth annual MIAC Baseball Tournament, to be held at Northfield’s Sechler Park and Dundas’ Memorial Park Friday through Sunday. The tournament is a four-team, double-elimination affair – Friday’s other first-round match-up will feature regular season champion St. Thomas and fourth-ranked Augsburg, which is making its first ever tournament appearance.

“We’ve proven that we can beat every team in this year’s tournament,” Green said. “We’re confident and have a lot of positive energy going into this weekend.”

Although the Tommies finished with a conference record of 17-3 (four games ahead of the second-place Oles, the second-largest margin in conference history), the conference crown is still up in the air. The Tommies may boast the tournament’s most potent offense (they lead the conference in batting average and runs scored), but the Oles possess the MIAC’s top pitching staff (leading the league in ERA and opponent batting average) and best defense (St. Olaf committed a league-low 41 errors).

No one is dismissing the Cobbers or Auggies either - each team split with the Oles and played St. Thomas to four close games.

This weekend’s winner will then advance to the NCAA Division III Midwest Regionals, which will be held May 19-21. The Oles – who have made the tournament every year since its inception in 2000 – earned their last regional berth in 2003, when they were also the number two seed in the conference tournament.

Friday’s first round action will get underway at 3:30 p.m. at Sechler. Win or lose, St. Olaf will play again Friday at 7 p.m.

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