The St. Thomas baseball team lost 5-4 Wednesday in a nail-biting, 12-inning bout with the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Metrodome.
The game, which lasted almost four hours, was ended by Gophers’ sophomore Kurt Schlangen. With two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, Schlangen nailed a single that brought home the game-winning run from third base.
“We were right with them the whole time,” St. Thomas coach Chris Olean said. “You’re going to lose a few here and there that you shouldn’t, and you’re going to win a few you shouldn’t. As long as they keep playing hard we’ll be fine.”
The Tommies jumped out to an early lead in the game, scoring a run off junior Tayler Rahm’s single in the first inning, but Minnesota responded with two runs in an error-filled third inning.
Another Rahm single in the sixth and a Gopher error that allowed senior Roy Larson to score gave St. Thomas a 3-2 lead at the top of the inning. Minnesota answered in the bottom of the sixth, however, knotting up the game at 3-3 going into the seventh inning.
Junior Matt McQuillan nailed a two-out, two-strike RBI single to center field in the top of the ninth, putting St. Thomas ahead 4-3, but the lead didn’t last long. With the bases loaded and two outs, Minnesota’s Nick O’Shea knocked in a run by barely beating out Larson’s throw to first that would have ended the game in St. Thomas’ favor. Instead, O’Shea was ruled safe, the run counted, and the game lived on, eventually ending with the Gophers’ on top.
“We had plenty of opportunities to extend our lead and even win,” senior Matt Olson said. “Some calls didn’t go our way, but we should have still come through.”
In 43 at bats, the Tommies managed nine hits while the Gophers had 11 hits in 44 at bats. St. Thomas left eight runners stranded during the game.
With the non-conference victory, the Gophers’ improved to 4-7 while the Tommies fell to 2-1 in their young season.
Despite the loss, Olson knows that the impact of playing a game against such tough competition stretches beyond the win-loss column.
“Last night showed us that we have to focus and play at a high level to beat good teams,” Olson said. “We can compete with anyone in Division III, if we play to our capabilities.”
Ben Katzner can be reached at email@example.com