MINNEAPOLIS — Three St. Thomas pitchers combined for 20 strikeouts as the baseball team swept the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Tuesday afternoon at the Metrodome.
The Tommies held on to win a close 3-1 first game and got the bats going in the second game to blow the Titans out 6-1.
The first two runs of the first game came off of errant throws from the pitchers, and errors continued to be a problem for both teams as the day went on.
However, coach Chris Olean was pleased that his team found a way to win an ugly game and said “a lot of them are going to be that way.
“To make fewer mistakes than your opponent seems to be the key. If you make them less and less, you’re going to win.”
Sophomore transfer right-handed pitcher Steve Maher started the first game for the Tommies and earned his third win of the year. In five innings, Maher recorded five strikeouts and allowed only one hit, one walk and no earned runs. Maher’s error on a pick-off throw to second allowed Oshkosh’s only run in the game.
Junior right-hander Dylan Thomas took over for Maher in the top of the sixth inning and got the save. At the beginning of the inning, Thomas allowed runners to get to second and third base but struck out two consecutive batters to get the Tommies out of the inning unscathed.
“The first two guys, I didn’t really have the right mentality for. I didn’t really feel like I was bringing everything,” Thomas said. “And then, I felt like I was in a closing situation so I needed to close it out. That got me into a better mentality, and I started rearing back and throwing a little bit harder.”
Thomas continued his momentum into the seventh inning where he struck out all three batters he faced to wrap up the first game for St. Thomas with a final score of 3-1.
“Dylan pitched himself into a bit of a jam, and then got out of it,” said senior third baseman Charles Bruchu. “He’s a tough pitcher, mentally tough. He came through for us in a big spot, got us that win.”
Game 2 blowout
Senior left-handed pitcher Bryce Gapinski started in the second game of the doubleheader for St. Thomas. Gapinski pitched his second complete game in a row and improved to 2-0 on the season.
Gapinski allowed four hits in the game but did not walk a single batter and struck out 10.
Olean said it was one of the best games of Gapinski’s college career.
“Ten strikeouts is like six games worth for him, so that was just a really big day for him,” Olean said.
Along with Gapinski’s great pitching, the Tommies got the bats going in the second game.
Freshman outfielder Ben Podobinski went 5-for-7 in the game to lead all Tommie batters. Sophomore catcher J.D. Dorgan had three RBIs on the day, but a clutch hit by Bruchu sealed the win for St. Thomas.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Tommies led 4-1, but Bruchu’s two-run double to left center gave the Tommies their final score of 6-1.
“I just sat on a good fastball, got on top of it and made a good hit,” Bruchu said. “It was pretty exciting considering that was the hit that really ‘put them away’ so to speak.”
The team will play its next game at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17, in Florida. The Tommies will take on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and it’s their first game in an eight-day, 10-game series.
Olean said that his team is not hitting as well as he would like to at this point, but he is pleased with the way the team is “finding ways to manufacture runs through bunting, just getting guys over and doing the little stuff.”
Nick McAndrews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.