TUCSON, Ariz. — Kevin Johnson (Sr./St. Anthony, Minn./DeLaSalle) threw a complete game in his second start of the season to defeat Luther College and starting pitcher Carlos Pineda, who pitched Curacao to a Little League World Series championship in 2004. Hayden Tsutsui (So./Northridge, Calif./Chatsworth) reached base three times as the Knights won 7-4 for their fifth win of the season.
Carleton fell behind early, and its bats were silenced through the first four innings as Pineda looked to be replicating his LLWS Championship game performance in which he struck out 11 in five scoreless innings a decade ago.
The Knights’ were determined to have this game end differently, and their bats woke up when Johnson led off the top of the fifth inning with a single to center field. Later in the frame Cameron Webb (Sr./Portland, Ore./Lincoln) stepped to the batter’s box with the bases loaded and picked up a hard-earned RBI when he was hit by a pitch, plating Johnson. The next batter, Willie Freimuth (Fy./Waunakee, Wis./Waunakee), tied the game at 2-2 with a RBI groundout.
The Norse responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. The score remained 4-2 in favor of Luther until the top of the seventh inning. Freimuth got the rally going with a one-out triple off of the top of the wall in left-center field. Jeff Dsida (Sr./Winnetka, Ill./New Trier) continued his strong start to the season by driving home Freimuth with a single through the right side. David Stillerman (Sr./Evanston, Ill./Evanston) worked Pineda for a walk, and the Norse summoned Joe Silversmith from the bullpen.
The move did not go according to plan for the Norse as Tsutsui drilled Silversmith’s first pitch into right field for a game-tying single. Ray Yong (Sr./Elmhurst, Ill./York) drew another walk to re-load the bases, and Johnson earned a free pass to force home the go-ahead run.
Another Luther pitching change was followed by Cody Bohlman’s (So./Irvine, Calif./University High School) sacrifice fly, which brought home Tsutsui for Carleton’s fourth run of the inning.
Johnson quickly retired the Norse in the bottom half of the inning. On the day, he struck out four Luther hitters and walked only one. The Knights added their final insurance run in the eighth when Freimuth singled and scored on Stillerman’s double to center field.
The Norse threatened in the bottom of the ninth, opening the frame with back-to-back singles to bring the tying run to the plate. Johnson, however, ended the threat by retiring the next three hitters to secure his first complete game.
The Knights play one final game at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. on Wednesday, March 26 against Oberlin College. First pitch is slated for 9:00 a.m. MST (11:00 a.m. CDT).