Freshman Zach Franz gave up one run and four hits in six innings pitched, leading St. Thomas to a 5-1 victory over Hamline Sunday morning. But the Pipers won the second game, coming from behind three times to win the MIAC playoff championship 7-5.
With the win, Hamline earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, but St.Thomas still has a chance at an at-large bid.
“I felt like we could’ve easily won the second game, regardless of how hard they fought back,” Franz said. “But some guys didn’t get some things done, and we ended up losing. That’s the way it goes.”
In the eighth inning of the second game, senior Kris Edwards’ pitch got past freshman catcher J.D. Dorgan, allowing Hamline’s Cory Miller to score from third base. Hamline’s Ryan Hackel also scored from second on the same play, giving Hamline a 6-5 lead.
“We had the guy at the plate but I missed [Dorgan’s] throw, and it deflected away,” Edwards said. “We didn’t execute the way we know we can. Baseball is a game of bounces, and it just didn’t bounce our way.”
St. Thomas senior Drew Cremisino started the first game with a two-run double in the first inning. Cremisino’s two-out hit came after Hamline left fielder J.D. Modrynski robbed a potential home run from senior Tayler Rahm.
Home runs by Charles Bruchu in the third inning and Cremisino in the fifth stretched the Tommie lead to 5-1.
Cremisino was 4-7 from the plate with three RBIs on the day. Bruchu was 5-9 with two RBIs, and he also made an over-the-shoulder catch at second base in the ninth inning that kept Hamline from rallying back.
“I knew that nobody else would be able to get there,” Bruchu said. “I just went after it as hard as I could. I just didn’t want a cheap blooper like that to start a rally in the last inning.”
St. Thomas made three errors during the second game, which was the team’s fifth game of the weekend.
“I think we might have got worn down a bit,” Bruchu said. “Five games in three days is tough. I’m sure we had some sore arms on the pitching staff, but in a championship game like that you don’t really think about it.”
The Tommies will find out Monday whether they will be playing in the NCAA tournament.
Alex Keil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.