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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Knights split with St. Johns and Concordia, Mac and Olaf next

<rleton baseball team has a fever, and the only cure is more cowbell! Well, not quite. The team actually has a split-ting headache after reeling off their fifth straight doubleheader split in conference play. The only cure for the Knights (9-20, 5-7 MIAC) to escape the .500 doldrums will be for them to capture that elusive sweep that could thrust the team into serious playoff contention.

Looming on deck for the Knights is Macalester- an appealing candidate for a sweep- but the wily Scots literally have an ace up their sleeve in senior James Murrey, widely perceived to be the MIAC’s elite pitcher. Should Murrey take the hill for the Scots, Carleton is not likely to be fazed. The Knights would likely counter with the Texas-bred Aaron Troyansky, who would be backed by reigning Hitter of the Week Gant Bowen ’11 and the angry Russell Fujisawa ‘10, still fuming and out for revenge after a fielding blunder of his own doing contributed to the deciding runs in Wednesday’s loss to Concordia.

Whatever intriguing matchups await, the home stretch of the 2010 season figures to provide plenty of excitement, especially if the last few games are any indication of things to come.

Though the team’s 5-7 conference mark may not be eye-popping, the wins have by no means been lacking in drama or excitement. This week’s 2-2 spurt featured a couple of especially euphoric come-from-behind wins.

On Saturday, playing host to the upstart Saint John’s Johnnies, Carleton trailed 2-1 entering the fifth inning before the scoreboard blew like Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. In the top half of the fifth, the Johnnies expanded their lead to 7-1, and things were looking grim for the Knights. Until the bottom half of the inning happened, that is. The Knights erupted for 12 runs when they came to bat- the school’s most prolific single-inning outburst in at least 15 years- and proceeded to cruise to a 15-8 win.

Legend has it that the inning went something like this. Following a sacrifice bunt by Alex Wirta, Bowen went Yahtzee down to left field line to narrow the Johnnies’ lead to 7-3. Luckily for the Johnnies’ pitching staff, they found a scapegoat in second baseman Joe Eiden, whose fielding error a couple batters later can give them a potential alibi for the monsoon of unearned runs that ensued. The Knights sent eight batters to the plate with two outs, including David Ames who, after getting pumped up to “Kernkraft 400” blaring over the loudspeaker, drove in three runs on his first collegiate homer and sent the Carleton dugout into a frenzy. Unfortunately, the momentum from the victory did not carry over into game two, which Carleton dropped by a score of 13-2.

The Knights next faced off against the league-leading Cobbers of Concordia-Moorhead at Mel Taube Field on Wednesday. In the opener, the Knights fought valiantly to overcome an early 7-0 deficit, but fell just short, 7-5. In the bottom of the seventh, the Knights sent the red-hot Bowen to the plate representing the tying run, but the Cobbers turned to their closer Ryan Johnson to ring up Bowen on strikes and preserve the win.

The nightcap saw the Knights unseat the conference leaders in high style, riding clutch hitting and strong pitching to an extra-inning, walk-off win. Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, Clay Dewey-Valentine drew a walk to set the table for Kiyo Gomi. Gomi then bid “sayonara” to a pitch that he drove into the right field corner for a double that put the two speedsters into scoring position for the top of the order. An RBI groundout from Fujisawa and a sacrifice fly from Alex Wirta leveled the score at four apiece, and sent the game into extras.

Junior Michael Servis shut down the Cobbers with a perfect eighth inning in relief, giving the Knights a chance to take all the marbles in the bottom half of the frame. This time it was Ames’ turn to draw a leadoff walk to get aboard for Erik Fabry. Fabry, who had nearly homered earlier in the contest, belted an opposite field drive that would score Ames all the way from first on a game-winning triple. Ames slid headfirst across home plate and let out a triumphant bellow before being engulfed by a giddy throng of his teammates that had spilled from the dugout.

On Sunday the Knights will make the jaunt up to Macalester to play two before returning home to host the Oles next Tuesday. First pitch on Sunday is scheduled for high noon.

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