NORTHFIELD, Minn. — After going more than three seasons without a walkoff victory, the Carleton College baseball team registered not one but two such triumphs in sweeping Augsburg College on Sunday. The Knights prevailed 2-1 in the opener, then persevered for a 4-3, 12-inning win in game two.
“As always it's great to come away with a pair of wins, no matter how long it takes,” said Carleton head coach Aaron Rushing. “Through less than ideal conditions and against a tough opponent, we persevered and got it done. The other great part is it was a true team effort. Over half the guys on the roster played today and made positive contributions on the field. It was great to see the pitching staff put together an outstanding collective effort.”
Carleton’s Jack Violetta (So./Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port) and Augsburg’s Tyler Beck took turns shutting down the opposition as both starting pitchers turned in impressive outings during their complete-game efforts in the opener. Violetta improved to 4-0 this season as he did not permit an earned run. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and eventually limited the Auggies (8-14, 2-6 MIAC) to only two singles for the game while he striking out six and walking a pair. Beck picked up a season-best 13 strikeouts, allowing him to work around seven hits and a walk.
Defensive miscues led to each run. A throwing error broke up Violetta’s shutout in the seventh inning. Meanwhile, David Stillerman (Sr./Evanston, Ill./Evanston) saw his 16-game hitting streak snapped, but he twice scored from second base after errors by the Augsburg infield. In the first inning, he came home after Kevin Johnson’s (Sr./St. Anthony, Minn./DeLaSalle) routine groundball slipped through. In the seventh, Stillerman reach on an error and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Aggressive baserunning paid off for the Knights (11-7, 5-3 MIAC) in the form of the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Stillerman reached on an error and advanced into scoring position via a wild pitch. After Hayden Tsutsui’s (So./Northridge, Calif./Chatsworth) groundball was mishandled, Stillerman headed for home and slid safely under the tag of the catcher to give the Knights their first walkoff victory since the 2010 season finale against North Central University.
Early on, game two appeared that it might get away from the Knights. Augsburg scratched out 10 hits against Johnson, but he limited the damage to single tallies in the second, fourth, and fifth innings.
Carleton plated a pair of two-out runs in the third as Stillerman doubled to deep centerfield and raced home on Willie Freimuth’s (Fy./Waunakee, Wis./Waunakee) solid single to center.
Jackson Tears (Sr./Trabuco Canyon, Calif./JSerra) relieved Johnson to start the sixth and immediately allowed the first two batters to reach. With the heart of the order due up for Augsburg, the Carleton defense snuffed out the Auggie rally. Tears gunned down the lead runner on a failed sacrifice attempt, then Tsutsui nabbed another Auggie attempting to steal third before Tears finished the inning with a strikeout.
That sparked an impressive run by the Carleton bullpen that saw Tears, Jukie Tsai (Sr./New York, N.Y./Friends Seminary), and Jordan Zoellmer (So./Richfield, Minn./Richfield) yield only one hit to the final 23 batters faced.
Buoyed by Tears mound work in the top of the sixth, Stillerman and Freimuth smashed back-to-back triples to start the bottom of the inning. That knotted the score at 3-3, but Augsburg starting pitcher Tanner Oakes retired the next three Knights to escape further damage.
With a steady ran falling for the second half of the contest, both offenses seemed stuck in the mud at times. Finally in the bottom of the 12th, the Knights caught the break they had been waiting for. Johnson reached on a fielding error and advanced to second on a wild throw. Pinch hitter Matt Schwimmer (So./New York, N.Y./Fieldston) was intentionally walked, and Nolan Baker’s (Jr./Appleton, Wis./Appleton North) infield single loaded the bases with none out.
Jack Atterberry (Fy./Chatham, Ill./Glenwood) delivered the game-winning hit, smacking the first pitch he saw to deep centerfield for a single.
Freimuth and Stillerman combined to go 6-for-10 with two runs scored and three RBI in the game. Zoellmer picked up the win after tossing a scoreless inning of relief.
The wins move Carleton into a tie for fourth in the MIAC standings. The Knights have another busy week ahead as they host Finlandia University for two games on Tuesday, April 15 followed by a conference doubleheader at Saint Mary’s University the following day. Next weekend, Carleton plays host to Saint John’s University on Saturday and has a non-conference game versus Northland College slated for Easter Sunday.