One of the Carleton College baseball team’s biggest wins of the season occurred when they vanquished Occidental College in a rain delay dance-off by pulling the group roller coaster move popularized at home basketball games. As their affinity for roller coasters would suggest, the team had already experienced its share of ups and downs in 2011. Though the BCS computer won’t be too forgiving when it comes to their 5-11 overall record (2-2 MIAC), fans have to be encouraged by flashes of promise throughout the club’s first week of MIAC action.
Easter marks the reawakening of nature as well as the time when Jesus rose from the dead. Appropriately, so too have the Knights rebounded from a poor start to the year to show signs of life on the thawing tundra of Mel Taube Field. After an 0-8 skid to open the season, the Knights have gone 5-3 since, including consecutive splits against the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s University as MIAC play gets under way.
Entering league play, the effectiveness of the pitching staff was the biggest question mark that needed to be addressed. After four games however, it looks as if the concern about pitching was much ado about nothing, as the Knights have been provided with inspired performances from the likes of Jake Anderson ‘11, Paul Dimick ‘11, and Anderson Cole ‘14, among others.
Anderson’s heroics on the bump helped lead the Knights to a “statement win” over conference juggernaut St. Thomas in Saturday’s MIAC opener. With the Tommies picked to finish first in the league and Carleton receiving their seemingly annual vote of confidence from MIAC coaches to finish face-down in the cellar, the Knights pulled an upset that few had predicted, combining Anderson’s strong pitching with timely hitting to win the first one 6-3. In the nightcap it was the Tommies whose clutch two-out hitting led to a 3-2 victory for the split.
David Ames ’11 came up big in the opening day shocker, collecting two hits while driving in three of his buddies. Anderson went the distance for his first career complete game, scattering just six hits over seven masterful innings.
In game two, Dimick took the hill and gave the Knights a great shot to pull off their first sweep of the Tommies since 1991. Carleton toted a 2-1 advantage heading into the sixth inning before St. Thomas pushed the deciding runs across in that frame and escaped with a 3-2 win.
While teams are generally content to split with the Tommies, splitting with St. Mary’s often leaves you wanting more. Such was the case Wednesday, as Carleton prevailed in the opener 1-0, but dropped game two in a sloppy 11-6 contest.
In game one Cole was lights out on the mound, pitching as if determined to give his hometown of Aspen, Colo. a reputation for something other than ski resorts and Dumb & Dumber references. The freshman phenom recorded the Knights’ first complete game shutout since the veritable demigod Ethan Guevin ’09 did so back in 2008. Cole’s brilliance allowed the Knights’ lone run to stand up, as Ames again delivered a clutch RBI single that accounted for all of the offense in the 1-0 victory.
Alas, the Knights could not convert their momentum from the opener into a sweep, dropping game two 11-6. Two Carleton errors aided the Cardinals’ seven run outburst in the fourth inning that ultimately doomed the Knights.
Taking the “glass is half full” outlook regarding the team’s .500 start to MIAC play, it looks as though the Knights will surprise the opposition this year and could even jockey for playoff contention if the pitching staff is able to keep up the good work. The Knights’ next test is Saturday, when the squad travels to Midway Stadium to go up against the Pipers of Hamline University.