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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Baseball posts two splits in the week, geared towards playoff run

<ring wrests Northfield from winter’s icy grip and woodland creatures awaken from long, hard months of winter lethargy, so too has the Knights baseball team (7-18, 3-5 MIAC) been showing signs of life in the past week. Granted, going 2-2 over one stretch of MIAC play won’t inspire any comparisons to the legendary 1995 Cleveland Indians (100-44), but after a trying 5-16 start to the season, this week’s triumphs are a promising sign that the Knights may be able to find their stride as they enter the heart of the conference schedule.

The next week features a make-or-break stretch of games that could potentially vault the squad into playoff contention. Pitching depth continues to be a primary concern, but the Knights can be heartened by the fact that last season they went 6-0 against their next three conference foes.

The Knights returned to the friendly confines of Mel Taube Field for Saturday’s home-opening twinbill against Hamline. In the opener, the Knights squandered a strong pitching performance from senior Aaron Troyansky, who took the mound on a mere two days rest.  Troyansky’s herculean effort was all for naught as he was plagued by a combination of some bad luck and a lack of run support. Junior Grant Bowen’s wind-blown home run was one of Carleton’s lone offensive highlights in the 7-2 defeat.

In the nightcap, the Knights were carried by a masterful pitching performance from sophomore Paul Dimick, prevailing 9-2.  The Northfield native tossed a complete game, showcasing his dirty arsenal of pitches and limiting to Pipers to six hits. The offense that had been dormant in the previous game suddenly came out in full force, putting up seven runs after only two innings. Russell Fujisawa led the way with three hits of his own.

Carleton was faced with the challenge of hosting a highly touted Augsburg team on Tuesday, but rose to the occasion and managed another split. In the first game, the Knights clawed their way to a 6-5 win behind a strong showing from junior Jake Anderson, who made his first MIAC pitching start in the affair.  The Knights blew up for four runs in the fourth inning, with the fleet of foot Clay Dewey-Valentine keying the rally with an RBI triple.  The Auggies threatened to battle back in the seventh inning, pulling to within one run and loading the bases off of reliever Kiyo Gomi.  To prevent a total collapse, Dimick once again played the role of hero and came in to get the final out and preserve the win.

Game two was a forgettable experience for the Knights, as it was rife with errors that ultimately sealed their doom.  Augsburg converted a quintet of Carleton errors into four unearned runs and cruised to an 11-6 win, forcing the Knights to settle for a split doubleheader yet again.

The Knights will remain comfortably stationed here in Northfield for their next two matchups before finally paying bitter rival Macalester a visit on April 25.

This Saturday, the team will get a crack at the upstart Saint John’s Johnnies, who have enjoyed a surprising degree of success in the MIAC so far.  The Knights swept the Johnnies in Collegeville last season, but this time Saint John’s will tote a 6-2 conference record into the game as the favorites.

Next Wednesday, the Knights will wrap up their homestand when they host the league’s other surprisingly hot team, Concordia.  Picked to finish ninth in the MIAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll,  the Cobbers’ have stormed to a 5-1 start and sit atop the conference standings. A year ago, Carleton won a pair of thrillers in Moorhead on the final day of the season to secure a playoff berth. Hopefully there will be enough good karma left in the tank for Carleton to replicate the same level of success against these opponents this time around. You can catch the action yourself at Mel Taube Field on Saturday, where the ceremonial first pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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