NORTHFIELD, Minn. – David Stillerman (So./Evanston, Ill./Evanston) had a team-best four hits on the day, but defensive miscues and an unfortunate officiating call led to the Carleton College baseball team dropping two games against North Central University (Minn.), 5-4 and 4-2.
Carleton (5-8) led 1-0 heading into the top of the third inning when things got away from the Knights in the opener. North Central (5-14) knotted the score with a sacrifice fly, but a missed call on an inning-ending double play kept the inning alive for the Rams.
With the bases loaded and one out, North Central’s cleanup batter hit a swinging bunt in front of the plate. Carleton catcher Alex Wirta (Sr./ Corte Madera, Calif./Redwood) scooped up the ball, stepped back onto home plate for the force out and then threw to first base to complete a double play… except the umpire did not see Wirta record the out at the plate and instead ruled that just the batter was out and that there were only two outs in the inning. The Rams ended up scoring one run on the play and another after the Carleton defense started to leave the field, expecting the inning to be over. After conferencing with the base umpire, the non-call remained, a decision that proved crucial as North Central ended up with a four-run inning, three of the tallies scoring after the fateful call.
The Knights got two of the runs back during the home half of the fourth frame via RBI singles by Ray Yong (So./Elmhurst, Ill./York) and Stillerman, but the Rams notched another run in the fifth to push the lead back to two runs at 5-3.
Wirta delivered a RBI base hit with two out in the seventh but could not complete the comeback.
Game two saw the Knights defensive mistakes lead to four early unearned runs. Carleton eventually settled down and permitted just one hit over the final 5.1 innings but the damage was done.
The Knights scored both of their runs in the fifth when Rams starting pitcher Blake Balaam lost control. With two out, Cameron Webb (So./Portland, Ore./Lincoln) singled then advanced all the way around on three consecutive hit batsmen. Yong followed with an RBI single but Wirta was cut down at the plate, ending the inning.
Kiyota Gomi (Sr./Dobbs Ferry, N.Y./Ardsley) was the hard-luck loser, seeing his record dip to 0-2 while lowering his ERA to 1.29.
The Knights will look to get back on track on Saturday for the MIAC opener. Concordia College visits Mel Taube Field for a doubleheader with a 1 p.m. first pitch. Live audio of both games will be available via Knights Online.