The St. Olaf baseball team saw their 16-game winning streak snapped by St. John's Wednesday afternoon at Mark Almi Field, falling 13-9 in game one of a doubleheader with the Johnnies. A sixth-inning rally and a stellar pitching performance by Paul Shrewsbury '10 allowed St. Olaf to take game two 3-2, salvaging a split and improving their conference record to 7-1.
Pitching, one of the Oles' strengths during their school-record winning streak, proved their undoing against St. John's. Four different Ole pitchers provided the Johnnies with 11 free passes (six walks and five hit batsmen), and St. Olaf also committed two errors in the field.
Starter Andrew Dimick '08 suffered the loss in the team's first conference defeat of the year, as the Oles failed to win for the first time since March 6. An offensive onslaught (St. Olaf banged out 16 hits, including 14 in the first four innings) wasn't enough. Chris Terrazas '07 and Patrick Wadzinski '09 each collected a pair of hits and RBIs.
Needing a quality start after the game one letdown, head coach Matt McDonald turned to Shrewsbury, a first-year with a grand total of seven innings in 2007, for game two. The right-hander kept the Johnnie hitters off-balance all day, going six innings while allowing just six hits.
The Oles trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, but a sac fly by Todd Mathison '09 and an RBI single by Tyler Johnson '09 put the team ahead 3-2. Mathison entered the game to pitch in the seventh, earning his third save of the season.
"I was excited but nervous at the same time," said Shrewsbury about his first MIAC start. "I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes, because I knew that I had a good defense behind me."
Shrewsbury also stressed the importance of bouncing back from the early defeat.
"That's what good teams do," said the first-year about the Oles' game two comeback effort. "Championship teams don't let losses get them down."
The Oles set the school record for consecutive victories Saturday afternoon with a home doubleheader sweep of the Concordia Cobbers by scores of 9-2 and 2-1. Game one was yet another Ole slugfest. Terrazas drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double in a five-run Ole third inning, and Wadzinksi contributed a bases-clearing double of his own in the four-run Ole fifth.
Mathison allowed his first two earned runs in MIAC competition (he had tossed over 48 and one-third scoreless frames taking back to last year), but threw a complete game to earn his sixth win of the season.
The game two victory was one of St. Olaf's closest of 2007. With the score tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Concordia chose not to intentionally walk Schmiesing with the winning run on second base and one out. Schmiesing promptly smacked the game-winning single off the wall in left field, preserving the Oles perfect MIAC record.
St. Olaf will try to begin a new winning streak when they take on the Hamline Royals Saturday in St. Paul. First pitch is at 1 p.m.