The Knights baseball team concluded their historic regular season with a dramatic sweep of the Concordia Cobbers in Moorhead, Minnesota on Tuesday with scores of 5-4 and 7-6. With the sweep the Knights clinched a berth in the conference tournament for the first time since it began in 2000 finishing tied for third with Hamline.
Carleton knew they had to win both games in Moorhead in order to make the playoffs to start the day after Augsburg split with Concordia on Monday. In both games the Knights had to make late inning comebacks to secure victories. Ethan Guevin ‘09 provided Carleton with a gusty effort on the mound after he was hit by a batted ball on his pitching hand in the second but was able to throw his fourth complete game of the season.
Freshman Alex Wirta ‘12 gave Carleton a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a solo home run to left field, the first home run of his collegiate career. However, in the bottom of the second, the same inning in which Guevin was hit, the Cobbers scored four with a one run single and a three run home run by Adam Johnson.
Jay Melson ‘09 was able to answer with a two run blast of his own in the third. It wash Melson’s eighth home run this season the third highest total in the conference and is the second highest season total in the past 20 years of Carleton baseball. The Knights were behind until the sixth inning in which Russell Fujisawa ‘10 continued upon his impressive season with a two run triple to put the Knights on top for good. Fujisawa’s 21 doubles lead the conference and he ranks ninth in the conference for batting average at a clip of .415. Guevin held the Cobbers scoreless in the sixth and seventh keeping the tying run at third base both innings. Guevin struck out the final batter on a filthy 3-2 curveball to end the game.
With the first game in the books the Knights still had to win the second in order to make the conference tournament. The Knights got off to a quick start in game two with a one run two out single by Jacob Anderson ‘11. Guevin got another clutch hit off Concordia starter Adam Johnson but could not get out of the ball park with a two run double off the wall to put the Knights up 3-1. The Cobbers scored in the bottom of the third and were able to take the lead in the fourth with a solo home run, RBI double and a single.
The Knights tied the game in the fifth with four consecutive hits. Grant Bowen ‘11 and David Ames ‘11 drove in the runs. However, the MIAC leader in home runs Kyle Johnson hit a 2-0 fastball over the fence tying the conference single season record for home runs with his 10th home run of the season. No one scored in the sixth inning as Aaron Troyansky ‘10 worked out of a bases loaded jam.
With the Knights trailing in the top of the seventh they were down to the last out of their season down a run with no one on base. Ames started the rally with a single to left and Fujisawa walked putting senior Cameron McDonald-Hyman at bat. Cam doubled to the left field gap and the Knights took the lead with two runs. Troyansky pitched an impressive 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh leading to an on-field celebration by the entire Knights team.
This is the second best baseball season in program history with a 21-19 record, trailing only the 1991 MIAC conference champions who went 24-11. The 12-8 conference finish is the best conference record since 1991 when the Knights went 16-4. It is also the third best finish in the conference since rejoining the MIAC in 1983. The Knights play Friday, May 8 against #7 St. Thomas in the first game of the conference tournament at 3:30 P.M. at Memorial Field in Dundas.