The Oles closed out their regular season this past week, splitting doubleheaders with St. Scholastica and St. Marys, and now stand ready to take on the best the conference has to offer in this weekends MIAC tournament. St. Olaf finished with a conference record of 13-7, good enough for the tournaments 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 teams 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 teams 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. Marys. 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. Marys 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 teams 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 Northfields Sechler Park and Dundas Memorial Park Friday through Sunday. The tournament is a four-team, double-elimination affair Fridays other first-round match-up will feature regular season champion St. Thomas and fourth-ranked Augsburg, which is making its first ever tournament appearance.
Weve proven that we can beat every team in this years tournament, Green said. Were 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 tournaments most potent offense (they lead the conference in batting average and runs scored), but the Oles possess the MIACs 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 weekends 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.
Fridays 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.