St. Norbert wins three games on the day en rout to midwest title

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GRINNELL, Iowa - St. Norbert College won three games on the final day of the Midwest Conference Championship Tournament to win its first conference title since 2014 and clinch an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

The Green Knights opened the day with an elimination-game victory by an 11-2 margin over Cornell College. St. Norbert (30-11) then topped Beloit College 6-4 and 9-5 in the championship round to win their sixth overall conference title.

St. Norbert will advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament, with regional play beginning on Wednesday.

The final game had plenty of high drama, as the Green Knights found themselves trailing 4-0 after the first inning. St. Norbert battled back to a 5-5 tie after five innings and then scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to take the lead. The Green Knights then had to hold off a last-ditch Beloit rally in the bottom of the ninth.

Beloit scored four runs on four hits with one St. Norbert error to take a 4-0 lead after the first inning. The Green Knights scored an unearned run in the top of the second inning, and later cut the deficit to 4-2 on a solo home run by Robbie Dombrowski in the fourth inning. Beloit then got an unearned run back in the fourth to push ahead 5-2.

St. Norbert promptly tied the score in the top of the fifth inning. Derek Klegin walked with one out and Hunter Larson was hit by a pitch. Tyler Banovich then cranked a three-run home run to tie the game. The Green Knights would load the bases later in the inning but couldn't take the lead.

The game remained tied until the ninth, when Larson singled with one out, followed by a Banovich walk. With two outs, Dombrowski stroked a double to the left-center gap to bring in Larson. Sean Grant then doubled down the left-field line to score Banovich and Dombrowski, and Jason Malkowski singled up the middle to plate Grant for a 9-5 lead.

Beloit would load the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, but St. Norbert ace Jake McMahon - working in his third game of the tournament - coaxed Brice Call into a double-play grounder to end the game and set off a wild celebration.

St. Norbert had 14 hits in the game, with Dombrowski going 3-for-5 with three runs scored. Malkowski was 3-for-4, while Banovich and Jack Maastricht were both 2-for-4.

Carson Jacques earned the win in relief, allowing three hits with one walk and four strikeouts in two innings pitched. McMahon got the last two outs for the save.

In the first Beloit game, the Buccaneers took two runs in the first inning and one run in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. The Green Knights got a single run in the third inning on a Banovich single. St. Norbert added four runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-3 lead. Maastricht had a run-scoring groundout, followed with a two-run double from Larson. Banovich then had an RBI single to cap the rally.

Beloit scored a single run in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-4, but the Green Knights added an insurance run in the seventh. Andy Peterik scored on a steal of third and scored on a throwing error.

St. Norbert had 11 hits, with Larson, Banovich, Malkowski and Ray McDonald all scoring two hits apiece.

Tyler Rouze got the win, allowing six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. McMahon earned the save with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Against Cornell, St. Norbert erased a 1-0 deficit after two innings with a five-run third inning on just two hits. Banovich had a sacrifice fly, Dombrowski drew a bases-loaded walk, Larson scored on a passed ball, Griffin Jack scored on a wild pitch and Grant had an RBI groundout.

Cornell scored a run in the third to draw within 5-2, but St. Norbert had two runs in the fifth inning. Grant and Malkowski had run-scoring singles.

The Green Knights got a single run in the eighth when Dombrowski drew another bases-loaded walk. St. Norbert then salted the game away with three runs in the ninth, with Klegin and Banovich adding sacrifice flies.

Klegin, Larson and Malkowski all had two hits apiece.

Jacques allowed just six hits with one walk and three strikeouts in a complete-game effort on the mound.