The St. Olaf baseball team’s long-standing rivalry with the University of St. Thomas came to a head Saturday, April 30, in a grueling doubleheader at St. Olaf’s Mark Almli Field. Cheered on by a loyal and enthusiastic crowd, the Oles came out of the first game with a surprising victory and ceded the second game to the Tommies.
The skies of Northfield were gray with violent winds and scattered showers, but morale remained high. The foul weather had no visible effect on the Oles, as St. Olaf scored four times in its final two at-bats to achieve a 5-2 victory over the Tommies.Aside from a near-toe amputation as a result of a foul ball hit by Joe Keiski ’19, and the near-busted windshield of a car parked too close to the field, it was a clean game. All of the fans were on the edge of their seats.
The offense played admirably, but the backbone of the victory was undoubtedly starting pitching Will Gustafson ’18. Despite surrendering two runs early on, Gustafson quickly rebounded by throwing three consecutive scoreless innings. The excellent performance brought Gustafson’s ERA down to 3.48, third best on the team.
Thomas Peterson ’19 replaced Gustafson for the final inning, striking out two Tommies without allowing a single base hit. The Oles handed the Tommies their fourth conference loss of the season, clinching their first victory against their longtime rivals since 2009.
Though the first contest resulted in an upset victory for the underdog Oles, the second was not quite so favorable. Though the Oles fought hard, it was St. Thomas who prevailed in round two. The Tommies overcame a 6-1 deficit with a seven-run sixth inning, eventually overcoming the Oles 10-7.
The Oles kept fighting in spite of the Tommies’ rally. Ole golden boy Tim Maus ’16 was soon 2-for-3 with three runs in the second game, along with a walk and an RBI. Thomas Peterson ’19, Sam Stuckmayer ’19, and Will Cipos ’19 also had two hits for the Oles in game two. Despite falling just short, the Oles fought until the bitter end.
Despite remaining in last place, Ole baseball demonstrated impressive resilience in the face of a formidable St. Thomas opponent. The impressive victory in game one proved that the future is bright for this team, and excitement for the future is palpable.