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ISSUE 116 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/18/2003

Baseball on a tear after early season struggles

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, April 18, 2003

Look out MIAC, the Oles are coming. After dropping to a three-year worst 7-10 overall and an uncharacteristic sixth place position in the MIAC, the men’s baseball team appears to have righted the ship, winning seven straight games.

After capturing the back end of a doubleheader 8-6 against Concordia at home the squad went on the road and swept Gustavus, Macalester and non-conference foe Luther to run their record to 13-10 overall and vault them into second place in the MIAC with a 6-2 conference mark.

While the bats have certainly come to life for the Oles, they have averaged over six runs a game during the winning streak, strong pitching has brought the team back to its winning ways.

John Haugen ’04 limited the Scots of Macalester to only four runs and picked up the win for his 4 2/3 innings of work in the opening game of the April 12 series. Dan Hansen ’05 followed working six strong innings in the night cap, surrendering only five hits to garner the win. Charlie Ruud ‘04 pitched the seventh inning of each game and picked up a save for his effort in the first game. Brad Baglien ’04 took care of the Ole offense, going 5 for 8 on the day.

The next day against Luther the bats were not as hot as they had been against the Scots, but the pitching was even hotter thanks to an ironman performance from Joe Blankush ’04.

Blankush earned the victory in the first game by working a complete game in which he threw only 78 pitches, slightly more than 11 an inning, struck out five and walked none. As if that was not enough, Blankush pitched the opening stanza of the second game before giving the reins to Dan O’Malley ’06, who promptly pitched six scoreless innings to tally his second victory of the year.

Now that the team has experienced a midseason resurgence, the real test arrives. Assuming that Mother Nature halts the recent rain being dumped on the Twin Cities area, the Oles travel to St. Thomas on Wednesday for a critical two game set. Should the Oles sweep the Tommies, they would move into first place in the MIAC and move one step closer to the ever-elusive fourth consecutive conference championship.

The road to that MIAC Championship does not get any easier as the team must endure four more games to finish a ten-game roadtrip this weekend before returning home to host eight conference games that could very well decide their fate before the MIAC championships come to Northfield and nearby Dundas on May 10 and 11.

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