Third baseman Jack Hogan’s two hits and RBI propelled the No. 7-ranked St. Thomas baseball team to a 5-4 victory against Augsburg Thursday afternoon at home.
Augsburg (12-6 overall, 0-2 MIAC) came into the game with five players batting above .380, something coach Chris Olean said makes the team a conference contender.
“(Augsburg) has a good record this year,” Olean said. “My guess would be that they’ll be in the conference tournament, so I expected two good ballgames.”
St. Thomas (14-4 overall, 2-0 MIAC) entered Thursday’s MIAC competition winning seven of its last eight games.
The Tommies got off to a slow start, falling behind 3-0 going into the fourth inning. Pitcher Tommy Danczyk kept the game close, allowing only one run in two and two-thirds innings of work.
Catcher J.D. Dorgan got on base with a leadoff walk to start the fourth inning and would later score on a fielder’s choice to get the Tommies on the scoreboard.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Tommie hitters came alive. Shortstop Jon Kinsel singled to right field to start the inning. Kinsel had two hits and scored a run.
“I always want to hit in a count with more balls than strikes and find something I can drive,” Kinsel said.
Dorgan would reach base on a throwing error, followed by a first baseman Tyler Peterson RBI double that laced down the line.
The Auggie defense started to crumble as both Dorgan and Peterson would eventually come around to score on fielding errors, giving the Tommies a 4-3 lead. Outfielder Ryan Gerber brought in the fifth run with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
Pitcher Steve Maher came in to relieve Danczyk and finished strong, earning the save without allowing a baserunner.
“Steve did a nice job of coming in and closing the door at the end,” Olean said.
St. Thomas, which came into the doubleheader batting .326 as a team, tallied six hits in the first game and no errors.
Thomas throws complete game shutout in game two
All-American Dylan Thomas tossed a complete game seven-hit shutout to lead the Tommies’ 6-0 victory in the second game against the Auggies.
Thomas was prepared for an Augsburg lineup that was looking to get a victory and split the series.
“Just throwing strikes was my big thing,” Thomas said. “I know they’re a really good ball club and I wanted to get ahead of them so I could throw my off-speed pitches.”
The Tommie bats came alive in the third inning with outfielder Kelvin Stroik’s single and back-to-back Kinsel and Peterson doubles to take a 2-0 lead.
Olean said he was satisfied with how his team battled in the second game.
“They really did come out and start to play right away, and it made a huge difference getting those runs early in the game,” Olean said. “And certainly Dylan throwing a complete game shutout helps.”
St. Thomas kept its hot hitting going into the fourth inning. Hogan led off with a double to deep left field. He advanced on a fielder’s choice and scored off second baseman Sam Miller’s single.
The Tommies put pressure on the Auggies and forced three errors in the fourth inning. St. Thomas went up 6-0, which ended up as the final score. Thomas maintained control throughout the game and didn’t give Augsburg any chance of a comeback.
“His command was very good,” Olean said of his All-American ace. “He had good zip on his fastball and was spotting his breaking ball the entire game.”
Thomas struck out six batters and improved his record to 4-1.
“When I can throw my slider and curveball where I want to, that’s when I feel really good about myself and I go out there with a lot of confidence,” Thomas said. “It helps knowing I have one of the best defenses in the nation behind me.”
St. Thomas finished the game with eight hits and no errors.
Olean expects Thomas to continue his success in conference play.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the country for a reason,” Olean said. “An exciting thing is that there is still room for him to improve”
The Tommies are back in action in a peculiar fashion Saturday. St. Thomas plays at home, but will be the away team against St. Mary’s in doubleheader action because the Cardinals’ home field has been deemed unplayable.
Kyle Jonas can be reached at email@example.com.