Parker Burman – Staff Writer
his past weekend the Gustavus baseball team squared off with conference rival Macalester in a Saturday double header. On the first warm and sunny day of spring the Gusties showed that they are a force to be reckoned with in the MIAC once again this season. Winning game one by a score of 12-0 and game two 14-2 the Gusties played two complete games on all sides of the ball.
Game one starter Sophomore Luke Siegle made it a rough day at the plate for Macalester as he threw six scoreless innings picking up 11 strikeouts in his gem of a performance. Claiming the victory he remains undefeated on the season with a 5-0 in six starts for the most pitcher wins in the MIAC.
“Throw a bunch of strikes, get ahead of guys in the count, and just fill up the zone. It’s a lot easier to play defense and make plays on defense when your pitcher is throwing a lot of strikes,” said Siegle.
“The more zeroes you put up on the mound the more chances it gives your offense to get going and that’s kinda what you saw on Saturday,” said Siegle.
Gustavus provided plenty of support to Siegle starting in the first inning when the Gusties plated a run as Senior Bryce Novak scored on a sac fly from Junior Drake Siens. In the second, the offense continued to add to their 1-0 lead as Novak knocked in two runs on a single as part of a three run inning.
“It felt relieving. I’d say to score that first run since the whole year our coaches have been preaching to us to have team at-bats so for me to get a pitch in the zone and not try to do too much and score a run with it was satisfying for sure,” said Siens.
The game was blown wide open in the third as Gustavus was able to push six more runs across the plate. Taking advantage of two errors on Macalester and three hits of their own to give the Gusties a 10-0 lead just three innings into the contest. The final two runs of the game came in the fifth as Siens singled, Junior Chris Knowles doubled and Senior Logan Bjorkman ripped a triple that scored both runners to push the lead to 12-0.
First-year Nick Hentges pitched a scoreless seventh inning picking up a pair of K’s. Novak and Senior Nick Azar led the offense going 2-3, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB and 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B.
Game two was a similar story for the Gusties as the offense kept humming along in support of a strong performance from the team’s pitching staff. Although not scoring in the first as they had done in game one the offense once again broke out in the second inning. Instead of just three runs they forced across six runs knocking out the Macalester starter after just two innings of work
Back at it with his run producing ways Novak launched his first homerun of the season making it a memorable one as it was a grand slam that broke open the inning. Three batters after Novak, Siens also hit his first homer of the year to center two drive in two additional runs.
“It felt really good hitting my first grand slam of my career but I was not trying to hit one in that situation. I was looking to just find a gap to score a couple guys but fortunately the pitcher left one over the plate and drove it to left,” said Novak.
Macalester answered back in the top of the third with a solo run coming on a single and then followed by a Gustavus error. Azar responded in the bottom half of the frame with a monster blast to left-center for his first of the year to get that run right back, making the game 7-1. The Scots got the run right back in the fourth on an error and two singles for their final run of the game.
Not wanting to give Macalester even the slightest glimmer of getting back into the game, the Gustavus offense continued to flex its muscles with a four run fourth. Senior Patrick Timmer highlighted the frame with a three-run double to left-center. Gustavus picked up another set of insurance runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth to make the score 14-2.
Junior Mitch Casperson was dealing the entire game as Siegle had done in game one. Finishing the day with six innings and seven strikeouts, four of which came in his last two innings of work, he collected his second straight victory on the hill. It was also his second straight win not allowing an earned run, helping to lower his season ERA from 4.95 to 3.81.
Senior David Rademacher pitched a scoreless seventh allowing just a single base runner in the four men he faced. Siens finished the day 2-3, R, 2 RBI, HR, SB while Bjorkman went 2-4, RBI, 2B and Novak went 1-3 with his monster slam.
“We have been playing with a ton of confidence and knowing that everyone has full confidence in you helps you play better. Our pitchers have also thrown extremely well. Our starters have gone deep into games and done a great job throwing strikes. We have also brought a lot of energy and are having a lot of fun which allows us to play better,” said Knowles.
The Gustavus baseball team will be back in action once again this weekend as the host Central Iowa for a double header starting at 1 p.m. this Saturday.
“It feels good to start 6-0 in the MIAC because these are the games that really matter to us if we want to go anywhere,” said Novak.
“If you can get to two strikes before they are able to get to two balls in the count, if you can win that race to two strikes it makes it a lot harder as a hitter to know what’s coming and to hit,” said Siegle.