Emma Esteb – Staff Writer
The Gustavus Baseball team clinched the MIAC Championship on Sunday, May 7, as they faced the St. Olaf Oles where they split in a doubleheader. The Gusties started their road to victory on Tuesday, May 2 where they beat the number one seeded Bethel Royals in a doubleheader with scores of 12-3 and 8-0.
Junior Adam Biewen was recently named MIAC Pitcher of the Week after his shut-out performance against Bethel. “Going into the game versus Bethel, I obviously knew that they were a very good team, being first in the Conference. I was just focusing on trying not to think too much and just do what I do and know that I have a lot of good players behind me in the field and a lot of good pitchers on the mound to back me up. So I was just trying not to do too much,” Biewen said. He only allowed two hits and had eight strikeouts. He was perfect heading into the fifth inning before he allowed his first hit. This doubleheader sweep moved the Gusties into first place heading into their final MIAC game against the Oles. “I think after we beat Bethel twice and moved into first place, both our confidence and just energy as a team really took a big step. During our Bethel games, it seemed like everybody was just locked in, our energy was higher than it had ever been, we had a lot of fans there, and that kind of carried over into Sunday when we had even more fans and we knew we were actually playing for something,” Biewen said.
In order to clinch the MIAC Championship, the Gusties needed to split their Sunday game versus St. Olaf. Junior Drake Siens started off the game with a solo home run in the second, putting Gustavus in the lead. St. Olaf responded with a run in the third inning, tying the game. Senior Nick Azar scored a solo homer in the fifth, putting the Gusties back in the lead. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold on to their lead as the Oles scored three runs in the sixth inning. The Gusties ended up scoring one more run but weren’t able to pull out the win. Sophomore Luke Siegle allowed two earned runs on two hits with seven strikeouts.
With a tough loss in the first game, the Gusties had to pull it together in order to win the next game. “Our mentality after the first was that this is a must-win game. We needed to win that game in order to get the number-one seed so just do whatever it takes, at all costs, and play for us instead of playing selfishly,” Senior Bryce Novak said.
The second game was back and forth with the Oles starting off strong after scoring four runs on five hits in the first inning. The Gusties responded with a leadoff home run by Novak and a sac fly from Senior Nick Azar after three walks. Still trailing, St. Olaf was 5-3 in the third and the Gusties knew they needed to step it up.
Heading into the bottom of the third, Siens led the Gusties with a huge home-run sailing over the scoreboard. After Siens crossed home, the umpire announced that Siens would be ejected from the game because he flipped his bat. “The energy felt really dead at the start. So, I tried to get the team going a little bit, and I think I did,” Siens said. Gustavus Head Coach Brad Baker was extremely emotional and upset about the situation and was also ejected from the game for arguing with the umpire. “That was probably one of the craziest things I have been a part of on a baseball field. That was just a lot of high emotions, I have never seen Brad like that,” Junior Chris Knowles said. Knowles was on the sidelines waiting to hit and had to step up and get in between Coach Baker and the umpire during their altercation.
With their head coach and one of their best players out of the game, the Gusties really needed to step up in order to win this game. “The whole situation definitely brought some fire to us and was a nice jolt we needed as a team to come together. It was obviously not fair to throw Drake out of the game but it was nice to see Brad go down with a teammate and stand up for us,” Junior Jackson Nelson said.
The Gusties came together to regain their lead in the sixth as senior Gavin Baker hit his 11th home run of the season to give a 7-6 lead. The Oles responded in the seventh inning with two runs, giving them an 8-7 lead. The Gusties took hold of the bottom of the seventh as Senior Logan Bjorkman hit a pinch-hit two-run single. Then three batters later, Senior Patrick Timmer hit an RBI single for a 10-8 lead. Gustavus held on to that score and finished on top, earning their title of MIAC Champions.
The Gusties are the number-one seed in the MIAC playoffs and will play the number-four seed, either Concordia or St. Olaf, on Thursday, May 11 at 2:30 p.m. at Saint John’s. The Gusties will play again on Friday at either 12:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. against Bethel or Saint John’s. This is the first time since 2019 that the Gusties have clinched the MIAC regular season title.