NORTHFIELD, Minn. — After nearly getting no-hit in the opener, the Carleton College bats awoke in game two as the Knights knocked off national No. 10 University of St. Thomas, 10-6. Kevin Johnson (Sr./St. Anthony, Minn./DeLaSalle) held the Tommies in check for six-plus innings in the nightcap, and Ray Yong (Sr./Elmhurst, Ill./York) went 3-for-4 with three RBI to lead the Knights’ offense.
“It was great to get a split against an outstanding St. Thomas team,” said Carleton head coach Aaron Rushing. “Offensively, we kept battling throughout, put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. Got a great effort from our pitching staff and overcame a bit of adversity as well.
“We've got a resilient squad, and we have a ton of fun at the ballyard. Every day in this league we play great teams. It’s always good to end the day with a ‘W.’”
Tommies’ lefthander Eric Veglahn fell one out shy of tossing a no-hitter in game one. With two down in the bottom of the seventh, Carleton’s Willie Freimuth (Fy./Waunakee, Wis./Waunakee) broke up the no-no with his triple well over the head of rightfielder Kelvin Stroik. That base knock plated Johnson with the Knights’ lone run in a 7-1 defeat.
Carleton (19-12, 9-7 MIAC) bounced back and earned a split with the 10-6 decision in game two. Jeff Dsida (Sr./Winnetka, Ill./New Trier) opened the bottom of the first with an infield single and later scored on the first of Yong’s three hits in the contest.
Johnson, coming off a complete-game effort in a 3-1 win over Saint John’s last weekend, was sharp once again and carried a two-hitter into the sixth inning. The Tommies (25-7, 14-2 MIAC) tied things up, 1-1, thanks to a leadoff walk and two singles.
Carleton responded with a five-run bottom of the frame as the Knights batted around against a trio of St. Thomas hurlers. Yong and Josh Zoellmer (Sr./Richfield, Minn./Richfield) had RBI singles in a frame that featured a quartet of Tommie fielding errors.
St. Thomas cut the deficit by plating three runs in the top of the seventh, via a two-run triple by Ben Podobinski and run-scoring single from Stroik.
Carleton immediately got those runs back in the bottom of the frame. Hayden Tsutsui (So./Northridge, Calif./Chatsworth) led off with a double to left centerfield and later came home on Johnson’s ground ball that was misplayed on the infield. Freimuth and Zoellmer added RBI groundouts to make the score 9-4.
The momentum continued to swing back-and-forth with St. Thomas closing the gap in the eighth inning. With a pair of unearned tallies already in and the bases loaded, Jackson Tears (Sr./Trabuco Canyon, Calif./JSerra) kept the Knights in front when he induced an inning-ending groundout from Tommie three-hole hitter Tyler Peterson.
The bottom of the eighth saw the Knights push across a run for the third straight inning. David Stillerman’s (Sr./Evanston, Ill./Evanston) textbook slide on a close play at the plate allowed him to score from second base on Yong’s two-out base hit up the middle.
Nolan Baker (Jr./Appleton, Wis./Appleton North) trotted in from right field to take over on the hill and tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to close out the victory.
Today’s split puts the Knights into a three-way tie for fourth place in the MIAC standings with both St. Olaf and Saint Mary’s at 9-7 in conference play. Carleton has upcoming doubleheaders at Gustavus Adolphus on Wednesday, April 30, and at home versus Concordia on Saturday, May 3.
The 19 overall wins this season are the third-highest in the 130-plus years of Carleton baseball. That total is surpassed only by the 24 triumphs of the 1991 MIAC Championship squad and the 21 victories posted by the 2007 squad that advanced to the conference tournament for the first time.