The Gustavus baseball team returns all but three players from a team that posted a record of 21-18 overall, 11-9 in the MIAC (5th place) and just missed qualifying for a spot in the conference playoffs behind Concordia (12-8 MIAC). Coach Mike Carroll’s 2006 squad features All-MIAC selections Ben Sherer (Sr., Bismarck, ND) and Anders Schmidt (Sr., Lakeville, MN). Sherer also received Academic All-America honors in 2004 and 05. The team has hopes of advancing into the MIAC Post-Season Tournament and will strive to win their first MIAC title since claiming three straight crowns in 1978-80.
The Gusties will return five of their eight starters this season. Gone are Ash Larsen (outfielder), Mike Holman (catcher) and Ben Eklo (pitcher). Larsen had a .284 batting average in his final season, while Holman played in every game, had a .310 batting average and only allowed six passed balls behind the plate. Eklo had a 2.67 ERA and tallied an overall record of 4-1 from the mound.
Carroll will build the 2006 team around Sherer (first baseman) and Schmidt (pitcher). Sherer had a .357 average from the plate last season and led the team in hits (45), doubles (9) and RBIs (33). Sherer led the MIAC in batting with an average of .513 in 2004 and claimed league MVP honors in his sophomore season. Schmidt appeared in 14 games for Gustavus on the mound and finished the season with a 7-2 overall record. He had a 2.65 ERA, pitched four complete games and converted the Gusties’ only save of the season. He also led Gustavus in innings pitched (60.2) and strikeouts (56) and was second in games started with eight.
Tony Konicek (outfielder), Wade Vrieze (outfielder), Aaron Madson (infielder) and Travis Gunderson (infielder) will also be key contributors for the Gusties offensively. Konicek ended last season with a .386 batting average while leading the team in home runs (5). He also connected for 39 hits, eight of which were doubles. Konicek was second on the team in total bases (64) and walks (13). Playing in 34 of 39 games last season, Vrieze led all Gusties with a batting average of .429. He led the team in on-base percentage (.491) and was second on the team in hits (42) and doubles (8). Madson had 39 hits in 122 at-bats for a .320 batting average. He was second on the team in RBIs with 23. Gunderson played and started in all 39 games and had a batting average of .287. He was fourth on the team in runs scored (27), at-bats (115) and plate appearances (127).
Along with Schmidt, Gustavus will return four other pitchers to the line-up this season, including David Wold, Josh Spitzack, Kraig Olson and Justin Hahn. Wold had a 3.23 ERA and was 1-0 in nine appearances. He pitched 17.1 innings for the Gusties. Spitzack was second on the team in wins (5) while posting a record of 5-5 with an ERA of 3.96. He hurled four complete games and was second on the team in strikeouts (41). Olson pitched 16.2 innings, including three starts, while Hahn saw limited time in his freshman year.
The Gusties will begin their 2006 spring season on March 5 in Minneapolis, Minn. where they will take on Dickinson State (N.D.) in a doubleheader at the Metrodome. Gustavus will then face Martin Luther another Metrodome doubleheader (3/12 and 3/13) before traveling to Phoeniz, Arizona for their Spring Break trip. The Gusties will play six games during their stay in Arizona from March 25 to March 30. Gustavus will open up their MIAC schedule on April 5, after playing 20 non-conference games, when it takes on St. Thomas at home in a doubleheader.