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ISSUE 120 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 4/27/2007

Perfect week for Oles

By Ryan Maus
Staff Writer

Friday, April 27, 2007

After seeing their 16-game winning streak snapped last weekend against St. John'’s, the St. Olaf baseball team simply decided to start a new one.

The Oles went 6-0 this past week and have now won seven straight, improving their MIAC record to 13-1 and overall mark to 25-2. St. Olaf swept doubleheaders from Hamline (Saturday), Bethel (Monday) and Carleton (Tuesday).

Tuesday'’s sweep at Carleton also clinched a MIAC playoff berth for the sixth-ranked Oles.

Six different St. Olaf pitchers earned victories during the weeklong stretch, a surprising development for a team that had seen two pitchers (Todd Mathison '‘09 and Paul Johnson '‘08) throw over 55 percent of their innings entering play Saturday.

"The way our early schedule worked out, we were able to throw [Mathison and Johnson] quite a bit,"” said head coach Matt McDonald about his pitching rotation. “"This last week has given other guys a chance to step up.”"

Tuesday, it was sophomore righthander Alex Beckman'’s turn to shine. Beckman, making his first start of the season, tossed a complete game two-hitter at the Knights in the Oles’ 2-0 game one victory.

“"One of the greatest qualities of our team is that we play great defense,"” McDonald said. “"All we want is for our pitchers to pump strikes in, because we’ll make all the plays."”

The busy schedule meant that another seldom-used sophomore, righty Alex Sommer, received the starting nod in game two. Sommer pitched well enough to earn the victory (six innings and two runs allowed), but it was the reawakening of St. Olaf'’s offense that lead the way in an 11-5 win.

Carson Jones '‘10 hit his first collegiate home run in the fifth, and Andrew Schmiesing '08 was 3-3 and scored three times.

“"Carson has some unique characteristics,"” said McDonald about his star left fielder. "“He'’s probably our fastest player from first-to-third, and you don’'t hit .400 by accident.”"

Monday, St. Olaf played a rescheduled doubleheader with the then 14-14 Bethel Royals at Mark Almi Field. After a second inning grand slam by Schmiesing gave the Oles an early 5-2 lead in game one, the Royals came back to tie the game at five in the third inning. A five-run outburst in the fourth, led by a two-run homer from Chris Terrazas '‘07 and a two-run double by Josh Maus '‘08 put St. Olaf ahead for good.

Game two featured another solid pitching performance from rookie righthander Paul Shrewsbury ‘'10. Shrewsbury went the distance in the 7-4 Ole win and is now 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA.

"Paul works fast, throws strikes and can locate three pitches,”" said McDonald about Shrewsbury. “"He’'s a confident guy out there and it shows.”"

Saturday’'s doubleheader against Hamline started with somewhat of a scare for McDonald. Mathison, an undefeated 15-0 in his collegiate career and owner of a 1.82 ERA this season, was forced to leave game one in the first inning with an elbow injury.

John Sopiwnik ‘'08 did an admirable job in emergency relief, pitching through the fifth in the 10-2 win. Johnson threw a four-hit shutout in the 5-0 game two win.

Saturday, St. Olaf will play its most important games of the regular season as they take on nationally-ranked St. Thomas. The Tommies currently lurk in third place in the MIAC with a 10-4 record.

“"St. Thomas is one of the top teams in the nation,”" McDonald said. "“It’'s always a showdown when we play, but whoever plays the best defense is probably going to win.”"

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