Cardinal Baseball Splits With Tommies

By DONNY NADEAU
Saint Mary’s Sports Information Director

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota baseball coach Nick Winecke could not have asked for anything more from starting pitcher Ryan Wolfe (Wabasha, Minn.) Tuesday afternoon.

After all, the junior right-hander held St. Thomas off the scoreboard for the first seven innings of the team’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup at UST’s Koch Diamond.

Unfortunately, seven shutout innings wasn’t enough to get the Cardinals a win, so Wolfe — bolstered by a four-run SMU outburst in the top of the eighth — trotted out for the bottom half of the inning and set the Tommies down in order to give Saint Mary’s a 4-0 victory in the opening game of their conference doubleheader.

The Cardinals and Tommies combined for as many runs in the second inning of Game 2 as the two had in the entire Game 1 — with Saint Mary’s jumping out to a 3-1 lead.

St. Thomas, however, outscored the Cardinals 4-1 over the game’s final five innings — including plating the game-winner on an RBI groundout in the bottom of the seventh — as the Tommies salvaged a split with a 5-4 victory in the nightcap.

The Cardinals threatened in both each of their first two at-bats in Game 1, stranding runners on second and third in the first, while having one runner thrown out at the plate and another stranded on second in the second.

Wolfe, who sailed along for the first four innings — limiting the Tommies to just three hits, and stranding all three at first bases — gave up a pair singles in the fifth, but induced Avery Lehman to tap a comebacker back to the mound to end the threat.

Andy Tepp (Stevens Point, Wis.) led off the seventh with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second by Joey Costello (Victoria, Minn.). But Tommie starter Graham Laubscher struck out pinch-hitter Connor Cornell (Plymouth, Minn.) and got Tyler O’Brien to fly out to left the keep the game scoreless.

After setting down the first Tommie he faced in the seventh, Wolfe ran into problems, surrendering a one-out single, before a walk and hit-batsman left the junior staring at a bases-loaded situation. The Cardinal defense, however, bailed Wolfe out, as Zach Drake (Westby, Wis.) made a diving stop on a ball up the middle at turned the second-to-first double play to send the game into extra innings.

The Cardinals finally broke the scoreless deadlock in the top of the eighth, as Justin Weinberg (Eagan, Minn.) led off the inning with a single. Matthew Piechowski (Hutchinson, Minn.) reached on a Tommie throwing error and Hunter Gustafson (Webster, Wis.) followed with an RBI single.

After failing to plate a run through the first seven innings, however, the Cardinals weren’t about to settle for just one in the eighth.

An intentional walk to Will Matthews (Geneva, Ill.) loaded the bases, and, after UST reliever Nate Sprouls got Liam Belleveau (Middleton, Wis.) to strike out for the first out of the inning, Tepp laced a two-run single to left and Costello added an RBI single to center to give the Cardinals a 4-0 advantage.

And a four-run lead was more than enough for Wolfe, who set the Tommies down in order for the complete-game shutout — the second of his collegiate career.

Tepp finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs to pace the Cardinal offensive attack, while Weinberg, Piechowski, and Costello accounted for the other three Saint Mary’s hits.

The Cardinals did not wait nearly as long to get on the board in the second game, loading bases with no one out in the second inning — sandwiching singles by Matthews and Taylor Anderson (Waukesha, Wis.) around a Tepp walk. Dirk Drohner (Plover, Wis.) drew a bases-loaded free pass to score the game’s first run, and, after Costello struck out looking, Drake laced a single to right, scoring Anderson and Tepp — and giving Saint Mary’s a quick, 3-0 cushion.

St. Thomas finally broke the Cardinal pitchers’ shutout spell with a solo run — an unearned tally — in the bottom of the second, and added another run in the third to cut the Cardinals’ lead to one, 3-2.

The Tommies pulled even with their third straight one-run inning of the game in the fourth — thanks to a one-out home run by Rock Cates off Cardinal reliever Jake Kramlinger (White Bear Lake, Minn.).

Saint Mary’s regained the lead, 4-3, in the most unconventional way in the fifth, as Weinberg reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, and scored from second on a wild pitch.

A lead-off walk in the bottom of the sixth came back to haunt the Cardinals, as St. Thomas scored on a one-out single by Cates to pull even, 4-4. A hit batsman and two more walks loaded the bases for UST with two outs, but Saint Mary’s reliever Keegan Majerus (Pine Island, Minn.) came out to induce a groundball out to end the inning — and keep the game deadlocked.

A pair of one-out walks sandwiched around a single to left loaded the bases for the Tommies in the bottom of the seventh, and Cates — who had collected hits in each of his first three at-bats of the nightcap — drove in the game-winning run with an RBI groundout to second to earn St. Thomas the split.

Matthews and Drake accounted for four of the Cardinals’ six Game 2 hits, each collecting a pair of singles. Weinberg and Anderson finish with Saint Mary’s other two hits.

The Cardinals (5-3 MIAC, 13-11 overall) are back in action on Saturday, returning home to Max Molock Field for a 1 p.m. conference doubleheader against Macalester.

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