This season has been anything but normal for the Gustavus baseball team. In their inaugural season on their new turf field, the Gusties compiled a record of 19-16 overall and 11-9 in the conference.
With an above .500 record, the Gusties clinched the sixth seed of the MIAC Playoffs.
This is a rather large accomplishment, as the Gustavus baseball team will be making their first appearance in the postseason in ten years.
“We’re here to build a championship baseball program and had a goal this year of getting into the MIAC tournament. We believed we had the talent, but being so young, we needed the older guys to lead the way, which they absolutely did in a huge way. This means a great deal for our program. The guys accomplished our first goal, which is a great testament to their talent and heart. Now, all teams start even in the playoffs and we’re excited to see what we can do,” Head Coach Brad Baker said.
Making the playoffs would not have been possible if it had not been for the team’s hot streak as of late.
In the past week, the Gusties swept three MIAC opponents to put themselves in a position to clinch a playoff berth.
“This year’s season has been all over the place. We started MIAC play and got kind of tossed around a bit, but we were in every game even though we found ourselves on the losing end. At one point we were 4-8 in the conference. We all looked at ourselves when we were 4-8 in the conference and said we’re not a 4-8 team. We knew what we had to get done, and we went out there and did just that. Clean, fundamental baseball, along with an all-around team win, got us those three consecutive double header sweeps,” Senior Nolan Lepel said.
Lepel was a major reason behind the three sweeps in the past week, as he earned the MIAC Baseball Player of the Week honor.
After the three sweeps over St. Olaf, Hamline, and Augsburg, the Gusties found themselves in a situation where they needed just one win over conference rival St. Thomas in their regular season double-header finale to put themselves in the postseason.
“We’re here to build a championship baseball program and had a goal this year of getting into the MIAC tournament.” — Coach Baker
In game one of the double-header, the Gusties fell 15-8, meaning that their fate was riding on their final game of the regular season.
Then, Junior ace Sam Archer took the mound and pitched a complete game gem, propelling the Gusties to a playoff securing 6-1 victory.
“We’ve been doing things the hard way all year, so we figured it would go all the way to the end. Archer took total control and was the best he’s ever been in the biggest game of the year. Our guys battled hard and figured out a way to win. Hats off to our guys,” Baker said.
“It was a lot of fun pitching knowing that we needed to win that game to get in. Knowing we needed to win against St. Thomas was huge, and as a team, I don’t think we would have wanted it any other way than to have to beat one of the best teams in the conference year in and year out,” Archer said.
At the time of publication, the Gusties were in Saint Paul taking on Saint Mary’s in the first round of the MIAC Playoffs.
The team was very focused and excited for the game.
“All six teams start at 0-0. We have absolutely nothing to lose, so we’ll continue to do what we do. They’re learning to win, and we have absolutely no pressure on us, so we’re looking forward to showing up at CHS field Thursday and taking our hacks. I told the guys that since we’re now in the playoffs, we might as well just keep winning,” Baker said.
In a season that featured crazy weather, a freshman class of over 20, and a brand new home turf field, the Gustavus baseball program had one of its most successful seasons in recent history.