ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks said, "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!" This probably isn’t what Mr. Cub meant.
Carleton College traveled to Bethel University on Wednesday for a MIAC double dip, one that is going to result in a second helping on Thursday. After the Knights tied the opener in the top of the seventh, the teams ended up needing 13 innings to determine a winner. Since it took four hours for Bethel to secure the 4-3 victory, the two sides only made it through three innings of game two before darkness caused play to be suspended. That contest will be continued at 4:30 p.m. on May 3 with Bethel holding a 7-6 advantage.
(Click here for a recap of game two.)
The opener ended up being the longest MIAC game this season, bettering the 12-inning affair between Concordia and Saint John’s on April 7. Two other contests involving conference teams lasted longer this year: Hamline lost to Minnesota, 3-2, in 16 innings on March 7, and Saint Mary’s beat UW-Oshkosh, 1-0, over 14 innings on March 25. The last MIAC game that needed at least 13 innings came on the final day of the 2011 regular season as Macalester won 7-6 at Concordia.
To say that both squads had opportunities to score additional runs today is an understatement. Each pitching staff worked only two 1-2-3 innings, and a total of 35 runners were left on base, including 24 in scoring position.
The Knights (13-21, 5-12 MIAC) scored first when Erik Fabry (Sr./Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) reached on an error to start the second inning and later scored on David Stillerman’s (So./Evanston, Ill./Evanston) double to right field.
Bethel (18-17, 9-8 MIAC) pushed across three runs, two of them unearned, in the third inning, in what would be the Royals’ last runs until the 13th frame.
Jeff Dsida (So./Winnetka, Ill./New Trier), who caught all 13 innings for the Knights, delivered a RBI single in the fifth, but with the bases loaded and only one out, that would be the lone tally of the frame.
Alex Wirta (Sr./ Corte Madera, Calif./Redwood) had a game-high four hits and led off the seventh with a Texas Leaguer to center. He moved up a another Dsida hit, scooted third on a Fabry sacrifice bunt, and scored the tying run on Nolan Baker’s (Fy./Appleton, Wis./Appleton North) groundout. Little did anyone realize that it would take another six inning to determine a victor.
Carleton reliever Jackson Tears (So./Trabuco Canyon, Calif./JSerra) worked into and then out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh, inducing a popout and a long flyout to left center.
In the ninth, Wirta singled and Dsida walked to open the frame. Both Knights advanced 90 feet following another Fabry bunt, but Carleton came up empty. In the bottom of the frame, Paul Dimick (Sr./Northfield, Minn./Northfield)—who tossed a three-hit shutout on Sunday versus Macalester—escaped a first and third, one-out situation. He finished with 2.0 scoreless innings out of the pen.
The bottom of the tenth saw Knights rookie righthander Thaddaeus Gregory (Seattle, Wash./University Prep) pitch his way out of a bases-loaded scenario. He would ultimately work 3.0 shutout frames.
The offenses might have been getting tired because neither side mounted a significant threat in the 11th and both sides went down in the order in the 12th.
Outfielder Ray Yong (So./Elmhurst, Ill./York) opened the top of the 13th with an infield single. One out later Wirta and Dsida had back-to-back base hits to load the bases. Fabry worked ahead in the count and scorched a line drive that was caught by the shortstop and turned into an inning-ending double play.
Henry Rownd (Jr./Rochester, Minn./Lourdes) took over on the hill for Carleton to work the bottom of the inning and walked the leadoff hitter. Following a fielder’s choice and a hit batsmen, Nick Anderson doubled down the left-field line to bring home the winning run.
Wirta, Dsida, and Yong combined for 10 of the Knights’ 14 hits in the contest.
Game two didn’t take nearly as long for the offenses to awake. With one out in the first, Kiyota Gomi (Sr./Dobbs Ferry, N.Y./Ardsley) singled and scored immediately on Wirta’s double to left center.
Bethel countered with five runs in the bottom of the frame, chasing Gomi after only 0.1 inning. However, Carleton responded with a five-run top of the third with a Fabry bases-loaded single, a Stillerman RBI grounder, a pair of bases-loaded walks, and a sacrifice fly. The Royals re-gained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the frame before the umpires halted play.
Like any good television season finale, this one is to be continued…