Baseball splits series against Hamline

Parker Burman – Staff Writer

Coming into play Monday against Hamline the Gustavus baseball team was sitting at an overall record of 11-3. After a successful trip to Arizona that saw them win eight of their nine games and ten of their last eleven, the Gusties were looking to build off that success. They currently sit at 12-4 overall with a conference record of 1-1.
Monday’s doubleheader was the first conference play of the season for Gustavus and their first time playing Hamline since the 2019 season. In game one Gustavus fell 4-1 to the Pipers in seven innings in a game which was tied through the first four innings. In game two the Gusties bounced back for a 7-1 victory behind a shutout performance on the mound from sophomore right-hander Mitch Casperson. At the plate they received great days from Senior first baseman Jack Hanson, Junior center fielder Bryce Novak, and designated Senior hitter Ethan Mocchi.
“The atmosphere was fun. Definitely fun to play in front of students and faculty again after a couple of weeks of no games since Arizona,” Hanson said.
“I think we were all just excited to play again and get back on the field and compete. We have high expectations for our team and know we have great potential if we can continue to piece some things together as the season goes on,” Novak said.
In game one the Pipers started quick, getting a lead off single to start the game off. With the lead off runner on, they capitalized on the situation with a sac bunt to move the runner into scoring position before back to back passed balls from Gustavus allowed the runner to score. The Pipers held their 1-0 until the third inning when Casperson belted a lead off home run that knotted the game up at one a piece.
“My approach for that at bat was to work the count and find a way on base to let our top of the order come up and hopefully do some damage and get an inning started for us. Luckily I was able to put a good swing on the pitch and get us on the board with the top of our order coming up,” Casperson said.
Each offense fell silent again before Hamline erupted for a three run fifth inning that started off with three straight hits. Gustavus was unable to answer in the following two frames and fell 4-1.
In game two Gustavus got on the board early thanks to a two-out home run in the first inning from Junior infielder Gavin Baker. Casperson on the mound neutralized the Hamline offense with his first of five shutout innings.
“After losing game one my approach for game two was to find a way to keep us in the game and ultimately give us the best chance of winning as possible. We are a team that hates losing and will always put up a fight and show some resiliency as shown in game two,” Casperson said.
In the second the offense kept the pressure on by pushing another run across the plate after Sophomore Drake Siens doubled and scored on a deep sac fly from Senior Nick Azar. Mocchi in the third widend the Gustavus lead by driving in Hanson and Junior Luke Johnson on a two-run, two-out double making the score 4-0.
Gustavus showcased their powerful offense once again in the top of the fifth with back-to-back home runs. The first was launched well over the left field fence by Novak for a two-run shot, his first of the year. Hanson followed this up to make the score 7-1 with a solo shot for his fifth homerun of the season, which leads the MIAC.
“It felt really good getting a hold of that one. I felt it really created a spark in that second game,” Novak said.
“It was a great feeling. These home runs really felt like they sealed the deal in game 2 and hitting behind an All American like Bryce is always a pleasure,” said Hanson.
Hamline scrapped one run across in the seventh off a single and an error but this was all their offense could muster after dominating performances from Casperson, Junior righty Andrew Gustafson, and Senior righty Damon Rademacher. The pitching staff concluded the game with nine innings of one run baseball, allowing only five hits and striking out nine.
The Gustavus baseball team will continue its tour of the MIAC with a double header at Carleton Saturday. “We need to do the little things right early and the rest of it should take care of itself. We have high hopes for the season and we just need to keep building momentum as the season progresses,” Casperson said.