NORTHFIELD, Minn. — The Carleton College baseball team celebrated the 10 seniors on the roster on Saturday. Despite dropping game one of the doubleheader against Concordia College by a score of 15-3, the Knights bounced back to earn a split with a 14-4 victory in game two of the twin bill. That result inched the Knights closer to a potential postseason bid.
“Another great day for our seniors,” said Carleton head coach Aaron Rush. “To finish out the conference slate by winning four of our last five games is fantastic. It's a credit to the seniors, their talent and leadership.”
Carleton improved to 22-13 overall this season and finished the MIAC regular season with a 12-8 ledger. The 22 victories are the second-highest win total in team history—which stretches back to 1882—trailing only the 24 triumphs recorded by the 1991 squad en route to the MIAC title.
Things started well for Carleton in game one when senior Jeff Dsida (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier) tripled to start the bottom of the first inning and scored on Hayden Tsutsui’s (So./Northridge, Calif./Chatsworth) double off the top of the wall in left-centerfield. Tstusui would later race home on Kevin Johnson’s (Sr./St. Anthony, Minn./DeLaSalle) single to left field.
The Cobbers (16-15, 8-10) tallied runs in five of the next six frames and pulled away for the victory. The only other Carleton run came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Cody Bohlman (So./Irvine, Calif./University High School) whistled his first collegiate home-run by the scoreboard beyond the right-field fence.
“We had a tough first game, but once again showed our resilience and played great in game two,” Rushing said. “We got contributions from guys up and down the lineup. That's what has made us so tough this year. We’ve never had to rely on one or two guys. It was a team effort, like it's been all year.”
The Knights turned to Johnson in game two, hoping the veteran could get the home team back on track. The senior righthander notched his third straight victory with his third complete-game effort of the year. After surrounding two runs to the visitors in the top of the first, Johnson settled down and scattered just four hits and two single runs over the course of the games’ final six frames.
Leading Carleton offensively in their victorious game two was senior left fielder Ray Yong (Sr./Elmhurst, Ill./York), who after a three-double afternoon surpassed Russ Fujisawa ’10 and now holds the distinction of being Carleton’s all-time doubles leader with 44 career two-baggers. Yong had five RBI in the contest, thanks in part to a monster two-run home run to straightaway centerfield in the bottom of the first to kick off the Knights’ scoring.
The other three of those five RBI came in a crucial bottom of the fifth, which saw Carleton transform a tight 4-4 tie contest into a comfortable 11-4 advantage. Yong had two RBI doubles in that frame alone as Carleton sent a dozen batters to the plate.
The Knights also scored runs on run-scoring singles by Nolan Baker (Appleton, Wis./Appleton North), Dsida, and David Stillerman (Evanston, Ill./Evanston). The other run of the inning scored thanks to a gutsy play by Johnson. The senior perfectly read a pickoff attempt from Cobbers’ relief pitcher William Jacobson, and Johnson raced home from third before the throw from first base could reach home plate.
All told, the MIAC’s leading offense posted seven tallies in the frame, which was more than enough insurance for Johnson.
Jordan Gefroh, who homered in the opener, was 2-for-3 with three RBI to pace the Cobber attack in the second game but his teammates batted only .167 against Johnson.
Game number two lasted just seven innings due to the 10-run mercy rule, which came into play when the Knights plated three runs in their half of the seventh. After Baker plated a pair with a well-struck double to stretch the lead to 13-4, Willie Freimuth (Waunakee, Wis./Waunakee) beat out an infield single to the shortstop that drove home the 14th run.
It was Senior Day for Carleton, which saw 10 Knights play the final home games of their careers. In addition to Dsida, Johnson, Stillerman, and Yong, six others were recognized during a ceremony in between games. That group also included Anderson Cole (Aspen, Colo./Aspen), Jacob Rice (North Oaks, Minn./St. Paul Academy), Jackson Tears (Trabuco Canyon, Calif/JSerra), Jukie Tsai (New York, N.Y./Friends Seminary), Cameron Webb (Portland, Ore./Lincoln) and Josh Zoellmer (Richfield, Minn./Richfield).
With three of the four spots in the upcoming MIAC Playoffs now secured by St. Thomas, Bethel, and Saint John’s, the Knights will be scoreboard watching over the next few days to determine the fate of their postseason dreams.
Saint Mary’s (9-7 MIAC) is the only team that can catch and pass the Knights for the final playoff spot, and the Cardinals travel to Bethel on Sunday for a doubleheader. If the Cardinals lose both games, then Carleton locks up the fourth seed in next weekend’s conference tournament. However, if Saint Mary’s wins one or both of the games at Bethel, then Carleton will be forced to root for crosstown rival St. Olaf on Tuesday, May 6, when the Oles host Saint Mary’s in the regular-season finale.
The four-team double-elimination MIAC Playoffs will be held from May 9-11 at Veterans Field in Minnetonka, Minnesota.