Bethel punches ticket to NCAAs with MIAC title

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ST. PAUL—MIAC Playoff Champions. How do you like the sound of that?
Bethel University's baseball team defeated Saint John's University in the MIAC championship by a final score of 8-0 Sunday and earned the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Royals (32-9), who were playing in their second playoff championship in a row and third in the last five years, started Sunday's game with five runs in the top of the first inning and cruised to an 8-0 win over the Johnnies (33-8).

Sam Horner started the morning contest with a leadoff single, followed by back-to-back walks to John Leach and Austin Ledin. Joey Fredrickson plated the first run with a bases-loaded single to shortstop, which was followed by a two-RBI single from Bo Lovdahl. Mitch Butvilas followed suit with a base hit, as did John Horner, who drove in the fourth run of the inning, and after Michael Wesner walked, Butvilas scored on a wild pitch.

BU added to their lead in the second when Joey Fredrickson hit a one-out single to right center that scored Austin Ledin. The Royals plated two more in the fifth when Sam Horner blasted a two-RBI single to right that scored Michael Wesner and Mitch Butvilas.

Bethel was just as good on the mound as they were at the plate. Sam Riola improved to 4-1 on the season after throwing seven shutout innings. The rookie gave up one hit and walked three, while striking out five in his first playoff appearance. Connor Malcolm picked up right where Riola left off, allowing one hit and one walk, but no runs in the eighth and ninth inning.
BU's eight runs came via 10 hits and seven walks. Joey Fredrickson ended the day 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI, while Sam Horner and Bo Lovdahl each finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and one run scored. John Leach and Mitch Butvilas also recorded a hit and two runs.
The Royals now advance to the NCAA Tournament, which scheduled for the upcoming weekend. Location, opponents, times, and all other information is expected to be released late tonight.