-CSS had won every UMAC Tournament title (20) prior to today
-BLC is the only team to defeat CSS in the history of the UMAC Tournament, now 4 times
-Third winner-take-all championship game in the tournament's history
DULUTH, Minn. (csssaints.com) – The St. Scholastica baseball team entered Championship Saturday of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament undefeated. However, Bethany Lutheran College, the team that shared the regular season title with the Saints, would not only win the first game to force a winner-take-all game, but also take the second game to capture the UMAC Tournament title.
Championship #1: BLC 17, CSS 7
The Vikings scored 12 runs between the eighth and ninth innings to rally past the Saints and force a second championship game.
The Vikings scored a run in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. The Saints answered in the bottom of the second with an Eric Pearson RBI double to bring in Neutzling and tie it 1-1.
Bethany then scored four in the top of the third to regain the lead at 5-1. CSS got three of those runs back in the bottom frame with RBIs from Aaron Weber, Brad Fossum and Chris Olson. Much like Friday's game, the Saints were held to only two hits through five innings, but still only trailed 5-4.
In the bottom of the sixth, Cole Tyman hit a two-out double to right center to bring Pearson and tie it at 5-5. The next batter, Drew Colvard ripped a ground-rule double down the line to give the Saints a 6-5 lead. St. Scholastica extended the lead to 7-5 in the seventh with an Olson sacrifice fly. At that point, the Saints were still being out-hit 14-6.
In the top of the eighth, the Vikings got a run on a sacrifice fly and then a big two-out RBI single to tie the game a 7-7. After the Saints went down quietly in the bottom of the eighth, the floodgates opened in the ninth for BLC. The Vikings had a runner on with one out when the next seven batters reached base and Bethany opened up a 12-7 lead. It tacked on five more runs in the inning to make the final 17-7.
Pearson and Tyman each had two hits to lead the CSS offense. The top six hitters in the BLC lineup had 16 of the team's 18 hits.
Championship #2: BLC 2, CSS 1
Offense was hard to come by in the winner-take-all championship game as both teams only had five hits. Once again the Vikings struck first with a two-out RBI single in the top of the second to take a 1-0 lead.
CSS was held to one hit until the fifth inning when Pearson led off with a triple to center. He then scored on a Tyman RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
A key moment in the contest came in the bottom of the seventh with the game still tied at 1-1. Braydon Hanson drew a two-out walk. After Colvard also drew a walk, Joey Zwak stepped up a roped a liner to right center. Bethany right fielder Diego Martiarena would lay out and make a spectacular diving catch to end the inning and saving at least two runs.
The Vikings carried that momentum into the top of the eighth, leading off with a double. After a pair of walks, the bases were loaded and Bethany would get a one-out sacrifice fly to take a 2-1 lead.
The Saints would get the leadoff batter on base each of the next two innings and get that runner to second, but would strand both right there as the Vikings got a fly out to end it and capture the UMAC Tournament title by a 2-1 score.
Bethany Lutheran pitcher Alex Babcock pitched in every game of the UMAC Tournament and earned the win in three of the Vikings' four victories. He also had the win in both games today.
Pearson had a pair of hits for the Saints to finish with four hits for the day.
End of Season
By failing to capture the UMAC Tournament title, the St. Scholastica baseball season likely comes to an end. The Saints (22-11) say goodbye to seniors Steven Neutzling, Drew Colvard, Joe Gonrowski, Jake Turner, Nick Peterson, Seth Anderson, Grant Rindal and Jordan Thompson.
Regional Tournament Next Week
The College of St. Scholastica will host the Midwest Regional Tournament at Wade Stadium next week beginning on Thursday. Who and how many teams coming up to Duluth will be determined late Sunday night as the 58-team NCAA Division III Tournament field will be announced.