Alli Joerger – Staff Writer
As Gustie baseball approaches the end of its season, the team entered two important games this week with the obvious goal to win and maintain their dominance in the conference as the number three seed. The Gusties were only partly successful in this matter as they lost to St. John’s University 4-13 and 11-23 on May 1, and then split the double header with the College of St. Scholastica with scores of 7-1 and then 2-3 on May 3. The baseball team honored its nine seniors in the games against St. Scholastica, and are preparing for three more regular season games before the MIAC Playoff Tournament.
The Gustie competition against number two St. John’s University proved to be a difficult match up of a high scoring game. The Gusties were overall unable to maintain momentum and often found themselves unable to capitalize on opportunities to score. The Johnnies were more prone to have offensive momentum throughout both of the games. In the first game of the double header, the home team also struggled on the mound, with First-year pitcher Luke Siegle enduring his first pitching loss of the season.
The second game showed more offensive promise as the Gusties took some level of control in the third inning, but the promise early on proved to be somewhat short lived as the Johnnies pulled away and increased the deficit over the course of the remaining innings.
As this was an important conference game, it was important for the Gusties to redeem themselves against St. Scholastica after a very tight turnaround between the two MIAC matchups. The Gusties did not allow the sweep against St. John’s to influence their confidence, and rather focused on their own game as they prepared to face their next opponent. Head Coach Bradley Baker explained that the team stuck to their usual game plan of adjusting as needed. “The game is all about making constant adjustments, but our process stays the same. It’s worked well for us to date and we won’t let a couple crazy games change what we do,” Baker said.
Rather than being frustrated by the quick turnaround, the team chose to embrace the challenge and accepted that “It’s the beauty of baseball: there’s always a new game to play. We have to have short memories and move ahead,” as Coach Baker said.
Against St. Scholastica, the team showed a renewed sense of purpose and determination as they held their opponent to only one run. Coach Baker explained that an important cause of the change from facing the Johnnies to the Saints was the pitching, with all of the pitchers throwing well over the course of the two games.
Another important factor was the offensive effort, with Sophomore Drake Siens scoring a home run in the first inning for his 37th home run of the season, thus tying the program record. After a clean seven inning game, the Gusties faced a battle in the second game of the double header as the game went to 13 innings. After a long stretch of the game being tied at two runs each, the Saints took the lead in the top of the 13th inning, which the Gusties were unable to respond to.
Despite the losses, the Gusties still have a lot to be proud of from their efforts and from the seniors that have offered their leadership over the course of four or five years, and may continue to do so in a fifth year. The seniors have been not only important for the success of the program, but also for the success of the athletes becoming mature and confident individuals while being part of Gustavus baseball.
“This group of seniors has been instrumental to the success of our program. They have had a significant impact on our team on the field but equally important is their leadership in how they mentor our younger players. Excited to see what they can do to finish the year!” Assistant Coach Andrew Woitas said.
Coach Woitas has also had an important relationship with this year’s senior class. Since he joined the Gustavus baseball coaching staff in 2018, he has been able to watch this year’s class grow from freshmen to the seniors and men that they are today. “It has been really cool to see this group on a daily basis and see them develop as baseball players and young men. They have had an impact on me and the people around them. Feels like yesterday they were getting here as freshmen! The time has flown by. I am excited to see what this group will do in the next chapter of their lives,” Woitas said.
The Gusties will be back on the field on May 4 to face Crown College at home, and then will travel to St. Olaf College and Concordia College later this week before the MIAC Playoff Tournament begins on May 12. The Gusties hope to maintain or improve their position as the number three seed in the MIAC to further solidify their entry into the Conference Tournament.