St. Thomas started off its doubleheader against Concordia–Moorhead with a 12-0 shutout Saturday afternoon at Koch Diamond, but couldn’t keep the momentum going as the Tommies dropped the second game 5-1.
“The first game went well,” senior Roy Larson said. “It was nice to start out with good pitching and hitting performances. But in the second game we might have let up a little bit. We didn’t have the focus we needed right away.”
No. 5-ranked St. Thomas (24-6, 11-5 MIAC) and Concordia (20-13, 11-5 MIAC) are battling for the MIAC lead with only four games left in the regular season.
Between the games, a ceremony was held to honor former St. Thomas baseball coach Dennis Denning. The Rev. Dennis Dease, university president, spoke about Denning’s accomplishments during his time at St. Thomas.
He also read a proclamation from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman that said May 1, 2010, will be known as Dennis Denning Day in the city of St. Paul. The university is also retiring Denning’s jersey, number 18.
Denning said in a speech that wins and losses “didn’t really mean anything” to him.
“Wins, losses, records – I never paid attention to them. The thing you get out of coaching is the contact with the people. The kids have been fantastic,” Denning said.
Tommies take game one with ease
St. Thomas started game one with senior Matt Olson getting in on a sacrifice fly from Tayler Rahm in the bottom of the third inning, and from there the runs kept adding up.
Sophomore Charles Bruchu hit two home runs and senior Tom Wippler hit another to edge St. Thomas toward the 12-run total. Senior All-American Matt Schuld pitched a complete game and did not give up a single run.
“They are a really good team and they hit fastballs really well,” Schuld said. “I had to mix in a lot of off-speed balls. As long as we kept them off-balance we were fine. But with the wind blowing out, you had to make sure you didn’t fall behind in the count.”
Interim coach Chris Olean said he would have liked to see the Tommies sweep the Cobbers as the two are currently tied with for the conference lead. He added that Concordia’s team is very strong.
“They’re scrappy,” Olean said. “They definitely battle you all the way.”
Cobbers jump out early in game two
The Cobbers came to life in the second game, scoring a run in the first inning and two more runs in the second. The Tommies didn’t score its run until the bottom of the fourth, as base running mistakes plagued the team throughout game two. Sophomore Bryce Gapinski pitched the second game.
“I don’t think we were really ready to play that second game,” Olean said. “We approached it a little lackadaisically. And in a seven-inning game, you don’t have a lot of time to catch back up.”
Schuld said the team needs to do well in its upcoming games after it couldn’t sweep the Cobbers Saturday.
“We’ve only got four games left and we have to make sure we win them all,” Schuld said.
The Tommies play No. 7-ranked St. Scholastica Sunday at 1 p.m. at home.
Katie Broadwell can be reached at email@example.com