The Gustavus Men’s Baseball Team continued their historic season this past week as they competed in MIAC postseason play for the first time in a decade.
After a rocky stretch of games in April, the Gusties turned their season around with three straight sweeps of conference opponents to give themselves a look at making the playoffs.
Their hopes came down to the last game of the year, at conference rival St. Thomas, and the Gusties came through with a huge performance in a 6-1 win.
With that, they were off to CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints, for the opening round of the MIAC playoffs.
As the No. 6 seed, the Gusties were set to face the No. 3 seed, the St. Mary’s Cardinals.
Despite being the underdog, the Gusties came into the game confident on the tenth anniversary of their last playoff appearance and were able to get on the board first.
In the top of the third inning, with two outs and the bases loaded, First Year phenom Cole Pengilly sent a line drive single through the middle of the field that scored two runs.
In his next at bat, Pengilly singled to left field and fellow First Year Carter Clemensen scored from second base to give the Gusties a 3-0 lead.
The Cardinals responded in the bottom half of the same inning and added two runs of their own, but it proved to be too little.
The Gusties added to their lead in the seventh inning with two more runs.
The first came off the bat of Pengilly once again, while the second came as Senior Brock Peterson singled to center and scored Junior Ryan Moriarty.
The Gusties rode this 5-2 lead to the end of the game and secured their first playoff victory in 10 years.
Junior Adam Stockwell got the start for Gustavus and was rock-solid on the mound.
He went six and two-thirds while giving up just one earned run on five hits.
Senior Casey Lewandowski came in as a reliever in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and got the Gusties out of the inning.
He didn’t give up any runs, and earned the save.
With the win, the Gusties moved on to the double-elimination portion of the Playoffs to face top-seeded St. John’s.
Unfortunately, the Johnnies caught fire early and notched four runs in the first inning and two more in the second.
The Gusties were able to respond in the fourth inning and cut their lead to 6-3, but the Johnnies ultimately held on for the win.
Archer batted in two of the runs with a single and Ethan Mocchi knocked the final run in with a sac fly.
The Gusties hopes remained alive however, as the double-elimination format allowed them to keep playing and set up a rematch with the Tommies.
In the top of the first inning, the Gustie offense produced three runs to give them the early lead. Senior Nolan Lepel batted in two runs with a double to left field, and scored off of an RBI single from Senior Brock Peterson.
The Tommies responded with two runs of their own in the second inning to make the score 3-2 in the Gusties’ favor. The score wouldn’t change until the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, RBI singles from Pengilly and Archer extended the Gusties lead to 5-2 and put them in a great position to upset the Tommies.
However, the Tommies scored three runs off three hits in the eighth inning to tie the game.
Despite some pressure from the Tommies in the bottom of the ninth, First Year Ben Brauer was able to get the Gusties out of the jam and send the game to extra innings.
The Gusties weren’t able to score in the top of the 10th, and a walk-off homerun for the Tommies ended the Gusties outstanding season.
“CHS was a blast to play at. The field was beautiful and there was a solid group of fans that went up to support us also. Hopefully playoffs are there again next year, and hopefully we can play a few more games there next year,” Junior Matt Berkner said.
For their efforts throughout the season, five Gusties were named to the MIAC All-Conference Team. Seniors Casey Lewandowski and Nolan Lepel, Juniors Sam Archer and Ryan Moriarty, and First Year Carter Clemensen were among those honored.
“This means a lot for the program and the direction it’s moving in. I think that we’re capable of making this a standard every year with the guys we have coming back,” Berkner said.
The Gusties will miss a strong group of seniors, but their productive crop of newcomers hint at a bright future for the Gusties.