Dylan Graves, Saint John's

Mora, Minn. / Mora
Week of: 2012-05-14

Saint John's claimed its first MIAC Baseball Playoff title over the weekend with sophomore Dylan Graves (Mora, Minn.) leaving his mark on the Johnnies' tournament championship. The centerfielder batted in the neighborhood of .400 over SJU's four tournament games (3-1 record), had a two-homer game to start the postseason run and played sparkling defense in centerfield without an error all weekend. For the tournament, Graves hit .389 (7-for-18) with four runs, four RBI, two home runs, a .722 slugging percentage and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on 10 chances.For his clutch Playoff performance, Graves has been named the final MIAC Baseball Player-of-the-Week for the 2012 season.

Graves was the driving force in SJU's tournament-opening win over Bethel, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the 7-3 win. He followed with another tremendous performance in a narrow 4-2 win over Saint Mary's in the second round. Graves was 4-for-5 against the Cardinals with a run scored and a hit in the Johnnies' eighth-inning rally that won the game. He added a big hit and scored a run in SJU's seven-run inning that blew open Sunday's championship game, and he halted St. Thomas' comeback attempt with a big double play from centerfield later in the game, catching an apparent sacrifice fly for one out and cutting down a Tommie runner at third before the run crossed the plate to end the innings.

With the tournament title, Saint John's improved to 29-14 this season, and added the MIAC Playoff Championship to its second-place regular-season finish. The postseason crown also gave SJU the MIAC's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament. The Johnnies were assigned to a six-team regional in McMinniville, Ore., hosted by Linfield. SJU is the No. 6 seed, and will join No. 1 Concorida-Texas, No. 2 Trinity, No. 3 Whitworth, No. 4 La Verne and No. 5 Coe in the double-elimination regional.
 

Jordan Buck, Hamline

Apple Valley, Minn. / DMACC
Week of: 2012-05-08

Both the Hamline baseball team and junior Jordan Buck (Apple Valley, Minn./DMACC) finished the 2012 season on a high note last week. The Pipers went 3-1 in its final four conference games, splitting a pair of one-run games with Saint Mary's and sweeping St. Olaf with Buck providing a major offensive lift. The outfielder hit .615 (8-for-13) with and .818 slugging percentage and four runs, three doubles, two RBI and a pair of walks. For his season-ending hot streak, Buck has been named the MIAC Baseball Player-of-the-Week.

Buck's big week started with a 3-for-6 performance against the Cardinals, in which Hamline won the first game 4-3, then suffered its only setback of the week in a 6-5 loss. The Pipers closed the season sweeping the Oles by the scores 1-0 and 13-3 with Buck going 5-for-7 at the plate over the course of the two wins. With a hit in each game, Buck ended the 2012 on a seven-game hitting streak where he hit .500 (13-for-26) and lifted his average from .260 to a season-high .333. Buck's 29 walks led Hamline this season, and he also racked up 33 hits, 19 runs, nine doubles  and a .493 on-base percentage.

The three final-week wins helped Hamline improve to 18-22 overall and 8-12 in conference play, which put them in eighth place in the final MIAC standings. However, six of the Pipers' losses came by a single run, and they finished just two games behind the fourth and final team in the 2012 MIAC Playoff Field.

Dylan Thomas, St. Thomas

Lakeville, Minn. / North
Week of: 2012-04-30

The St. Thomas baseball team had quite the week, going 4-0 against MIAC teams to clinch the regular-season conference title and No. 1 seed in the postseason while setting  a new school record by extending its winning streak to 19 in a row. Dylan Thomas (Lakeville, Minn./North) had his fingerprints all over the Tommies' four victories with both his arm and his bat, as he batted over .500, got both the game-winning hit and the save in one game, and added a complete-game shutout on the mound in another. For his outstanding all-around performance, Thomas has been named the MIAC Baseball Player-of-the-Week - his second weekly honor in three weeks after earning the MIAC Pitcher-of-the-Week honor on April 16.

Thomas continued his amazing season on the mount going 1-0 with a save in two appearances without allowing a run. He retired Carleton in order in the seventh to save an 8-7 St. Thomas win, and he threw a four-hit, complete-game shutout in a 2-0 win over Bethel. Against the Royals, Thomas struck out six, walked three and got three ground-ball double plays to keep Bethel off the scoreboard. At the plate, he was 7-for-13 with six RBI and an .846 slugging percentage, and he drove in the go-ahead run in the same 8-7 win over the Knights that he finished on the mound. This season, Thomas is 4-0 with a save and an 0.96 ERA in five conference appearances and his 11.05 strikeouts per game leads the MIAC. Thomas is hitting .452 (14-for-31) with 13 RBI this year as well.

With the four wins, St. Thomas has now won 19 games in a row, and it locked up the conference title with a perfect 16-0 record in the MIAC thus far. The Tommies - 28-4 overall - are ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in the two Division III baseball national polls. This week, UST will try for a perfect 20-0 conference record when it travels to Moorhead Monday to face Concordia and Gustauvs Saturday for MIAC doubleheaders. The Tommies also face Division I Minnesota Tuesday and St. Scholastica Sunday as it wraps up the 2012 regular season.

Jeff Dsida, Carleton

Winnetka, Ill. / New Trier
Week of: 2012-04-23

Carleton had perhaps its best week of the 2012 baseball season with a 4-2 record and a big MIAC sweep over a five-day span last week. Leading the charge for the Knights was sophomore Jeff Dsida (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier), who hit nearly .500 for the week with great on-base and slugging percentages to pace the Carleton offense that scored at least five runs in each of its four wins. For his performance, Dsida has been named the MIAC Baseball Co-Player-of-the-Week.

Dsida and the Knights got off to a great start Tuesday, sweeping Crown in a nonconference doubleheader, 5-0 and 7-4. Wednesday's MIAC twin bill vs. Augsburg is where the catcher/DH really caught fire. Over the two wins (9-3, 8-2) against one of the conference playoff contenders, Dsida was 5-for-6 with four RBI, three runs, a pair of extra-base hits and he also reached via a walk and a hit by pitch. He added a 3-for-3 performance with two doubles and a pair of RBI in a narrow 4-3 loss to St. Olaf Sunday. This season, Dsida's .351 batting average ranks third among MIAC catchers and in conference-only games he ranks 13th in hitting (.389) and 10th in slugging (.583).

The four-win week helped the Knights improve to 12-17 overall and 4-8 in conference play, where they're currently tied for eighth place. Carleton hopes to keep its recent success rolling against a tough schedule this week. The Knights take on both of last season's conference co-champs in MIAC doubleheaders, with a trip to St. Paul to face St. Thomas Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday they host Macalester with first pitch set for 1 p.m.

Braden Rahman, Concordia

Moorhead, Minn. / Moorhead
Week of: 2012-04-23

The Concordia baseball team used a big week to get back into contention for a spot in the 2012 MIAC Playoffs behind the bat of sophomore Braden Rahman (Moorhead, Minn.). The Cobber shortstop led his team to five wins in six games - including a sweep of defending MIAC co-champion Macalester - by hitting .500 with a slugging percentage of nearly 1.000 and an eighth-inning walk-off home run in Concordia's final win of the week. For his performance, Rahman has been named the MIAC Baseball Co-Player-of-the-Week.

Rahman's big week resulted in a .500 batting average, a .944 slugging percentage and a .591 on-base percentage with two doubles, two homers and six RBI. Concordia started with a split against Gustavus and an 11-4 win over Valley City State before its big sweep of the Scots (4-0, 3-1). Rahman was particularly good against Macalester. He was 3-for-3 with a run in the first win, and in the second he capped a 2-for-4 performance with a run and all three Cobber RBI with his two-out, two-run game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth. This season, Rahman is second in the MIAC in batting (.413) and on-base percentage (.486), fourth in slugging percentage (.620), fifth in hits (38) and home runs (three) and sixth in doubles (10).

The four wins last week helped Concordia get back to even with a 16-14 overall record and a 7-7 mark in conference play. Currently, the Cobbers are tied for fifth place, just one spot out of the MIAC playoffs at this point. Concordia will try to continue its playoff push with six games on the schedule this week. Tuesday, the Cobbers host Dakota Wesleyan in a nonconference doubleheader at 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday they travel to Mayville State for another twin bill outside the league. Saturday, Concordia hosts Hamline for a key 1 p.m. MIAC series.

Adam Carl, Augsburg

Eagan, Minn. / Eagan
Week of: 2012-04-16

The Augsburg baseball team has been one of the hottest teams in the MIAC at the start of conference play, with four more wins last week to run its winning streak to six in a row. Leading the charge was sophomore shortstop Adam Carl (Eagan, Minn.), who hit nearly .600 and slugged nearly 1.000 for the week with five RBI, three runs, three doubles and a stolen base in MIAC sweeps of St. Olaf and Concordia. For his performance, Carl has been named the MIAC Baseball Player-of-the-Week.

Carl got off to a hot start last week in Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of the Oles (7-5, 4-3) - Augsburg's first since 1987. The Auggie sophomore went 4-for-6 with two doubles, two RBI and three runs scored in the two games. For an encore, Carl went 5-for-7 with a double and three RBI in a pair of wins (5-4, 4-1) over Concordia Saturday to finish the week with a .692 batting and on-base percentage and a .923 slugging percentage. This season, Carl is hitting .352 with 24 RBI, 24 runs scored, eight doubles and two home runs.

The four wins helped Augsburg improve to 21-8 overall and move up into second place in the MIAC standings with a 7-3 conference mark. The 21-8 record is the Auggies' best 29-game start since 1987, and they'll try to extend their six-game winning streak this week with two more conference doubleheaders on the docket. Augsburg travels to Northfield to face Carleton in a 2:30 p.m. twin bill Wednesday, and Saturday the Auggies head to Arden Hills to play two with Bethel at 1 p.m.

Connor Cline, Saint John's

Bloomington, Minn. / Jefferson
Week of: 2012-04-09

Saint John's got off to a scorching start with wins in each of its first four MIAC games last week, with first baseman Connor Cline (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) playing the hero. Not only did the Johnnies' junior hit .538 for the week in doubleheader sweeps of Carleton and Concordia with three runs, three RBI and a home run, but he also came up huge in the clutch with a game-winning walk-off home run in the 12th inning of SJU's fourth win of the week. Cline also earned a win on the mound last week and, for his performance, he has been named the MIAC Baseball Player-of-the-Week.

 

Cline started the week with a 3-for-4 performance with an RBI in a 7-5 win over Carleton Wednesday as the team's designated hitter, and he picked up the win in a 3-2 pitcher's duel in the second game, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts. He continued to swing a hot bat in Saturday's sweep of the Cobbers, going 4-for-9 with three runs and two RBI in the two victories. His biggest swing came in the 12th inning of game two with the score deadlocked at 6-6. With two outs and a full count, Cline launched his game-winner over the fence to give SJU its first 4-0 MIAC start since 2007. So far this season, Cline is hitting .341 with 15 runs and six RBI and a .979 fielding percentage.

The Johnnies 4-0 week helped them improve to 16-6 overall and, at 4-0, become one of just two teams to escape the first week of conference play without a loss along with defending conference co-champ St. Thomas. The Johnnies and Tommies will square off in a matchup of unbeatens Tuesday in St. Paul with their MIAC doubleheader set to start at 2:30 p.m. SJU will be home Saturday to host Bethel for another conference twin bill with a 1 p.m. start time.

Robert Williams, Macalester

West Covina, Calif. / Northview
Week of: 2012-04-02

Last season, the Macalester baseball team was the surprise of the MIAC as it earned a share of the regular season title. The Scots picked up where they left off with a sweep in its first conference series of the season and a nonconference sweep as well behind a big week from senior Robert Williams (West Covina, Calif./Northview). The Macalester catcher/DH batted an incredible .727 (8-for-11) last week with a 1.273 slugging percentage and a .769 on-base percentage with six runs, six RBI and two home runs. For his performance, Williams has been named the MIAC Baseball Player-of-the-Week.

 

Williams' big week started Monday as the Scots swept Northwestern in a nonconference twin bill, 9-0 and 5-2. He went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run in the two wins, but it turns out that was just the start of his monster week at the plate. Williams was even better Saturday as Macalester scored a 9-2, 7-6, sweep of St. Olaf with a home run in each game and a 5-for-6 overall performance with five RBI and five runs scored. HIs home run in game one gave the Oles a 2-0 lead and, in the second, his two-run shot helped to start a Macalester comeback from a 6-0 first-inning deficit. He also started the game-winning rally with a single in the seventh. This season, Williams is hitting .471 with 23 RBI to lead the Scots in both categories.

The four wins last week helped Macalester climb above the .500 mark with a 12-9 overall record, and the Scots opened conference play with a 2-0 record against a good St. Olaf squad. Macalester will continue its MIAC title defense with a pair of conference doubleheaders this week. Wednesday, the Scots host Gustavus at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday they travel across town to face Augsburg at Parade Stadium at 1 p.m.

David Freed, Bethel

North Oaks, Minn. / Mounds View
Week of: 2012-03-26

The Bethel baseball team has started strong this season, and its offense - especially lately - has been putting up big numbers. A lot of the Royals' success at the plate thus far can be credited to the man setting the tone, leadoff hitter David Freed (North Oaks, Minn./Mounds View). The junior is batting nearly .500 thus far with an even higher on-base percentage, and he has accounted for more than two runs per game over the team's first 14 contests. For his performance in the top spot in the Bethel lineup, Freed has been named the inaugural MIAC Baseball Player-of-the-Week for the 2012 season.


So far in 2012, Freed has been sensational setting the table for Bethel with a .478 batting average, a .567 on-base percentage and a .609 slugging percentage. He's scored 18 runs and driven in 12 more in 14 games with 22 hits in 46 at bats, including four for extra bases (two doubles, two triples). The Royals' first baseman has led his team to notable nonconference victories over the likes of UW-Whitewater, Grandview and SUNY-Oneota thus far in 2012 while starting each of the 14 games and adding five pitching appearances.

 

Thanks to Freed and his teammates', the Royals are above .500 heading into conference play with an overall record of 8-6, which doesn't include an exhibition win over the Minnesota Twins' rookie team on their spring break trip. Bethel opens the MIAC portion of its schedule Saturday, as it heads to Winona for a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Saint Mary's.