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ISSUE 121 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/7/2008

Baseball gets past Grinnell; pitching helps beleagured offense to pair of victories at Metrodome

By Eric Monek Anderson
Sports Editor

Friday, March 7, 2008

Returning to campus at 3:15 a.m. isn't so bad after a doubleheader sweep, as the St. Olaf baseball team discovered late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The Oles swept a pair of victories against Grinnell College of Iowa in a doubleheader beginning at 9:45 p.m. at the Metrodome. Each game was tight and controlled by St. Olaf pitching, as the Oles won 3-1 and 4-2.

Head coach Matt McDonald again went with co-captain and ace Paul Johnson '08 to start the first game. Johnson allowed only a first-inning unearned run in his five innings of work, though another paltry offensive output left the Oles trailing 1-0 entering the top of the fifth. The Oles gambled for one run with a sacrifice bunt from Sean Dube '11, but struck gold for three runs thanks to an RBI triple by cleanup hitter Carson Jones '10 and an RBI double off the bat of co-captain Luke Gagnon '08.

The 3-1 margin stood up for the rest of the game after Alex Sommer '09 scattered one hit in two innings to give Johnson the victory and earn himself his first save of the season. The tandem of Johnson and Sommer, two of St. Olaf's many solid returning pitchers, allowed just four hits and struck out six. Catcher Pat Wadzinski '09 led the way with a 3-for-3 effort from the plate. In the second game, the Oles again relied on a one-inning outburst for their offensive effort. This time they used a four-run third to establish an early lead for starter Andy Dimick '08.

The runs were plenty for Dimick, who held Grinnell scoreless until the fifth inning, when he surrendered a few runs. Todd Mathison '09 followed with two shutout innings to gain the save and preserve the win for Dimick, who missed last week's games due to illness.

Carson Jones again contributed two hits, adding a double to his second triple of the doubleheader. Jones finished with four hits, two runs scored, and two RBIs in the games against Grinnell. Shortstop and leadoff hitter Josh Maus '08 set the table with a pair of hits in the game. Dimick, Mathison and the St. Olaf defense benefited from four double plays in the seven-inning "nightcap." Wadzinski, who caught both impressive pitching performances, said that the Oles achieved their goals on the mound. When asked about the pitching philosophy, he offered an admirable mantra.

"Location, location, location, location," Wadzinski said. "What we try to do, especially with Paul and [Dimick], is to locate the fastball or offspeed for a strike to get ahead in the count, then go inside, inside, inside and try to saw the hitters off." The four double plays in the second game prove that the Oles' location was spot-on. The pitchers picked up for the slack for the offense, which managed a slightly better output than the ten total hits from the opening doubleheader against Wartburg. However, they only scored in two of the 13 innings they batted against Grinnell.

Coach McDonald has a couple weeks to work on all facets of his team's game before they play their next Metrodome doubleheader.

"We need to work on situational hitting," Wadzinski said. "There were three or four situations in the game with a runner on third and less than two outs and we couldn't get him in, get the job done. Coach said we're going to practice team offense."

Next up for the Oles is Mayville State University Mar. 18 at the Metrodome. Shortly after that final indoor contest they will depart for a 10-game spring break trip to Florida.

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