The Gustavus baseball team fell to St. Olaf 6-4 in a rain-soaked first round game at the 2006 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament at Memorial Park in Dundas. Junior Tony Konicek (Rochester, Minn.) blasted a grand slam home run to center field in the second inning to account for all of Gustavus’ runs.
Playing as the visitor on the scoreboard, the Gusties used a walks by Nate Ruff (Fr., Bloomington, Minn.) and Shea Roehrkasse (So., Jackson Hole, Wyo.) and a single to left field by third baseman Aaron Madson (Sr., North Mankato, Minn.) to load the bases in the top of the first inning, but Wade Vrieze (Jr., Richfield, Minn.) popped out to Ole first baseman Tyler Johnson to end the threat.
The Oles responded in the bottom half of the inning as center fielder Brian Astry and third baseman Chris Terrazas reached on singles. Designated hitter Brett Berry gave St. Olaf a 2-0 lead with a two-RBI double to left center that scored both Astry and Terrazas.
Gustavus got right back into the game in the top of the second inning, taking a 4-2 lead as Konicek sent an Eric Tobias offering over the wall in straight-away center field to score shortstop Mike DesLauriers (Fr., Minnetonka, Minn.), right fielder Tyler Kaus (So., St. James, Minn.) and Madson. DesLauriers had reached on a fielder’s choice, while Kaus reached on a walk and Madson on a single.
Tobias survived the second inning, but would not make it out of the third, allowing a pair of Gustie runners to reach base with two outs. Reliever Todd Mathison was brought in to clean up and needed only one pitch to induce Kaus to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
St. Olaf battered Gustavus starting pitcher Josh Spitzack (Sr., West Concord, Minn.) in the fifth inning, scoring three runs on three hits and one error to take a 5-4 lead. Ole right fielder Andrew Schmiesing singled up the middle to start the inning and moved to second as Terrazas was hit by a pitch. A single by left fielder Josh Schultheis loaded the bases before Berry lined out to Ruff at second base for the first out. Ole second baseman Luke Gagnon followed with a fly-out to left field for the second out. Vrieze, attempting to make a play on Schmiesing at home on the would-be sacrifice fly, overshot both Roehrkasse and Spitzack on the throw, which sailed into the Gustavus dugout. The two-base error allowed Schmiesing and Terrazas to score unimpeded. Schultheis, now at third, scored on a single by Johnson to give the Oles the one-run lead.
Schmiesing would add to the Ole lead in the sixth inning with a solo home run to center field off relief pitcher Andy Schmidt (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.). The Gusties were able to mount one final charge in the top of the ninth inning as Kaus opened the frame by singling up the middle. Following a strikeout and a fly-out, Konicek reached after being hit by a pitch. The game came to close though as Schmidt, a .360 hitter during the season, knocked a slow dribbler down the first base line that was easily fielded by Mathison for the game’s final out.
Konicek finished the game 3-for-4, collecting three of Gustavus’ eight hits. Madson went 2-for-5 as the only other Gustie with multiple hits. Ruff, Siering and Kaus collected the other Gustavus hits. Schmiesing and Johnson each went 2-for-4 with one RBI to lead the Oles. Berry had one hit, but knocked in a pair.
Spitzack picked up the loss on the mound, allowing five runs (three earned) on nine hits in five innings of work. He struck out one batter before being lifted in favor of Schmidt, who allowed one run on one hit in three innings of relief. Mathison pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball to get the win in relief.
Gustavus finishes the season with 28 wins, the second most in school history.
The Gusties bow out at 28-12 overall, while St. Olaf advances to face fourth-seed Hamline, a surprise 4-1 winner over top-seeded St. Thomas, in the MIAC Tournament Championship Sunday at 1 p.m. in Dundas. The MIAC’s automatic qualifying spot in the NCAA Championships will be at stake.