ST. PETER, Minn. – After Wednesday’s postponement, the Gustavus baseball team is set to play six Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games in the next five days. The Gusties travel to Macalester Friday (2:30 p.m.), host St. Olaf Saturday (1 p.m.), and host Concordia Tuesday (2:30 p.m.) for three league doubleheaders.
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Playoff push: The next three doubleheaders for Gustavus will certainly give a clearer picture for what the MIAC playoffs may look like. The Gusties enter the weekend with a 5-3 record in the league, which has them sitting in fourth place – four teams make the postseason. They share the same amount of losses with Saint John’s (7-3) and have one more loss than Bethel (8-2) and St. Thomas (8-2). Currently on the outside looking in are Macalester (6-4), Concordia (7-5), Hamline (3-5), Saint Mary’s (3-5), St. Olaf (2-6), Carleton (2-8), and Augsburg (1-9). The Gusties have 12 more league games left on the schedule as each team plays a total of 20 MIAC games. Gustavus has not made a postseason appearance since 2008 and has not won a conference title since 1980.
Last time out: The Gusties on Monday salvaged a split against last year’s MIAC playoff champion Saint John’s, losing the first game 2-0 before winning game two 7-3. Game one featured a pitchers’ duel between Brice Panning and Jake Dickmeyer. The score remained scoreless through six complete innings until the Johnnies finally broke through in the seventh with a pair of runs on a two-out single, which proved to be the difference. Isaiah Welckle (1-3, SB) and Brock Peterson (1-3) had the only two hits for the Gusties. In game two, the Gusties snapped the Johnnies’ eight-game win streak, fueled by a four-run seventh inning that broke a 2-2 tie. Connor Kern lasted six and two-thirds innings in a no-decision. He allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Casey Lewandoski got the win after two and one-thirds innings of relief. He allowed one run on four hits with a strikeout and a walk. Matt Berkner led the Gusties at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two runs and a double. Danny Carlson finished the day with three assists, putting him at 402 in his career, and is now 14 shy of setting the program’s career assist record.
Scouting the Gusties: Gustavus enters the weekend with a 17-9 overall record, which is the best mark since 2008 when the Gusties were also 17-9 after the first 28 games. Head Coach Brad Baker’s squad is hitting a combined .312, which is third best in the MIAC. Matt Berkner and Nolan Lepel lead the team offensively with .394 and .392 batting averages, respectively. Brock Peterson is close behind with a .356 average and ranks 50th in Division III in the “toughest to strike out” category. Peterson has struck out just four times in 87 at-bats. Brice Panning has been the Gusties’ top starting pitcher with a 2.38 ERA and a 2-1 record after four appearances. Casey Lewandoski has been the top option out of the bullpen, making 12 appearances with a 3-0 record and 2.16 ERA in 25 innings.
Scouting the Scots: Macalester is at Gustavus’s heels in the league standings with just one more loss, but only a sweep would move the Scots ahead of the Gusties. The Scots lead the league with 11 triples and are second in runs with 206. They are hitting .321, which is second in the league. On the mound, the Scots have a 4.65 ERA, which ranks fifth in the MIAC. Alex Baretta paces the team at the plate with a .402 batting average, while Nick McMullen is close behind at .384. Collin Branter ranks fourth in the league with 26 RBI. Matthew Plisko is the ace of the staff with a 4-2 record, 2.25 ERA (4th/MIAC), and three complete games with 32 innings pitched. Cole Chang is a close second with a 3-2 record and 4.25 ERA in 36 innings.
Scouting the Oles: St. Olaf enters the weekend after suffering consecutive sweeps against Concordia and Saint Mary’s. The Oles have a MIAC doubleheader at home today against Saint John’s. Luke Dahl and Dylan Blake lead the team at the plate, batting .418 (4th/MIAC) and .412 (5th/MIAC), respectively. Jake Mathison is the clear-cut ace of the staff with a 2.57 ERA, 4-2 record, and four complete games after 49 innings pitched.
Scouting the Cobbers: Concordia enters the weekend having won eight of its last nine games. The Cobbers’ last two wins came in extra innings against MIAC foes Carleton and Augsburg. Grant Toivonen and Nate Hoeft lead the Cobbers at the plate, batting .341 and .330, respectively. The Cobbers are hitting .291 as a team. Cole Christensen and Fletcher Andel have been the top two starters on the mound. Christensen has a 3.64 ERA and 3-3 record in 42 innings, while Andel has a 4.28 ERA and 4-2 record after 40 innings.