NORTHFIELD, Minn. — For the second straight doubleheader, the Carleton College Knights let a chance at a sweep slip away but recovered with a solid pitching performance to earn a split. On Saturday, Saint John’s big seventh inning led to the Johnnies claiming a 9-2 victory in the opener, only to see Carleton pitcher Kevin Johnson (Sr./St. Anthony, Minn./DeLaSalle) go the distance to bring home a 3-1 triumph in game two.
Going up against the top pitching staff in the MIAC, the Knights grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning of the opener. Ray Yong (Sr./Elmhurst, Ill./York) delivered a two-out, two-run double, plating Willie Freimuth (Fy./Waunakee, Wis./Waunakee) and David Stillerman (Sr./Evanston, Ill./Evanston).
It appeared that starting pitcher Jack Violetta (So./Green Bay, Wis./Bay Port) might make those runs stand up, but the southpaw ran into trouble in the seventh. His attempt to work out of a jam was not aided by a questionable hits batsmen call, and things snowballed on the Knights as Saint John’s pushed across nine runs in the final frame, eight of them with two out.
Just as they did on Thursday at Saint Mary’s, the Knights were able to re-group between games and battled back to earn a split that keeps them in the middle of the playoff race.
Needing a win to keep pace with Saint John’s and St. Olaf, the Knights got the pitching performance they needed as Johnson turned in his best outing of the season. The righthander limited the Johnnies to a lone run on five hits, two of those coming in the top of the ninth. He struck out four and walked four.
Carleton scored twice in the fourth inning. Stillerman got the rally going with a double down the leftfield line. He raced home on Hayden Tsutsui’s (So./Northridge, Calif./Chatsworth) base knock to right field, and Yong followed with a single to left for his third RBI of the day.
The Knights added an insurance run in the sixth as Yong, Johnson, and Nolan Baker (Jr./Appleton, Wis./Appleton North) had consecutive single off game two loser Collin Felhaber.
The Saint John’s run came in the top of the second via a leadoff double, a groundout and a wild pitch. After that double, the Johnnies were just 2-for-25 against Johnson until opening the ninth inning with a single up the middle.
The next batter smacked a line drive up the middle, but Stillerman made a diving catch to record the first out if the inning. Another single meant the Johnnies had the tying runs on base, but Johnson induced two more groundouts to finish out his second complete-game victory of the season.
Saturday was the first of five consecutive days of games for Carleton. Tomorrow, the Knights host Northland College for an Easter Sunday non-conference matchup at 2 p.m. Carleton then welcomes Minnesota-Morris for a single nine-inning game on Monday, April 21 at 4 p.m. The Knights travel to UW-La Crosse for a third straight non-conference game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. followed by a MIAC doubleheader at Hamline University on Wednesday, April 23. First pitch of the twinbill is slated for 2:30 p.m.