ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (MIAC) Sunday baseball schedule will begin just as Saturday's did – with the top two seeds in the tournament squaring off in a must-see matchup of regionally-ranked teams. An automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament will be on the line at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow morning when the No. 2 seed Bethel Royals take on the No. 1 seed Saint John's Johnnies in the 2018 MIAC Baseball Playoff Championships.
Bethel defeated Saint John's, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon to punch its ticket to the title game, while SJU held off rival St. Thomas, 2-1, in an elimination game later in the evening to earn its spot in the Conference championship. The Royals and Johnnies split the regular season series.
NO. 2 BETHEL 3, NO. 1 SAINT JOHN'S 2 | BOX SCORE | PHOTOS |
The Bethel Royals advanced to the MIAC Baseball Playoff Championship Game for the second consecutive season after topping Saint John's, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon. Senior catcher Austin Ledin gave the Royals the spark they needed with a monster home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 1. Ledin finished the game with two RBI while senior pitcher Noah Luedtke maintained his perfect record (5-0), earning the win with a four-hit, four-strikeout performance in seven innings of work. Closer Jake Marsh – winner of last night's 10-inning thriller – found himself back on the mound less than 24 hours later to collect the save, holding the Johnnies without a hit in the final two innings of play. SJU designated hitter Joey Stock went 2-for-4 with a run scored to lead the Johnnies' offensive attack. Junior pitcher Danny Kuhn was tagged with his first loss of the season (7-1), allowing three runs on eight hits in five innings of work.
NO. 4 ST. THOMAS 6, NO. 6 GUSTAVUS 5 – 10-Innings | BOX SCORE | PHOTOS |
St. Thomas went to extra innings for the second night in a row, this time coming out on the winning side of a 10-inning epic. Senior catcher Logan Kohorst tattooed a Ben Brauer pitch over the left field wall to preserve the Tommies' season and eliminate Gustavus from the MIAC Playoffs with a 6-5 UST walk-off win. The Gusties headed to the bottom of the eighth with a 5-2 lead but could not hold off the Tommies' late-game rally. Senior pitcher Ryan Zimmerman tossed a whopping 157 pitches in nine innings of work for the Toms and reliever Shaun Falbo struck out two of the three batters he faced in the 10th to earn the win. Catcher Nolan Lepel went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs batted in for the Gusties. Gustavus starter Sam Archer pitched six and two-thirds innings, striking out seven while allowing two runs on nine hits.
NO. 1 SAINT JOHN'S 2, NO. 4 ST. THOMAS 1 | BOX SCORE |
The third game of Saturday's MIAC Baseball triple-header did not disappoint, as Saint John's was able to rebound from a loss earlier in the day to defeat its greatest rival and earn a spot in the Conference title game. Excellent defense and a few clutch at-bats enabled the Johnnies to halt UST's momentum after the Tommies came into the game riding the wave of an extra-inning walk-off home run to stave off elimination for at least a few more hours. SJU pitcher Bennett Wiggins tossed a gem, allowing one run off four hits in eight innings to earn his sixth victory of the season, while Tommy Auger threw a one-hit ninth inning to claim the save. The pitcher's duel between Wiggins and St. Thomas starter Graham Laubsher – who struck out 10 in nine innings for the Tommies – stayed scoreless through five until a wild pitch scored junior centerfielder Max Jackson to put the Johnnies on top, 1-0. UST leadoff hitter Zach Gottfredsen responded in kind in the next half-inning, singling up the middle to score Avery Lehman and bring the game back to a tie. Jackson's sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth proved to be the difference, however, as St. Thomas was unable to answer in the final frame and the Johnnies collected their third and most crucial victory over the Toms in 2018.
Saint John's and Bethel will meet in the MIAC Playoff Championship on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. Bethel will be playing in the MIAC title game for the third time in program history and second time in as many seasons, while the Johnnies – making their fifth trip to the championship round – will be looking for their third playoff crown in the last four years. The Royals have never won the MIAC Playoff title.
Sunday's MIAC Championship will begin at 11:00 a.m. If Saint John's wins the first game, a second game will follow 30 minutes after the first to determine the double-elimination tournament winner. The champion will receive the MIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
MIAC BASEBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Saturday, May 12, 2018 | PROGRAM |
Game 5: No. 2 Bethel 3, No. 1 Saint John's 2 | Box Score | Recap | Photos |
Game 6: No. 4 St. Thomas 6, No. 6 Gustavus 5 | Box Score | Recap | Photos |
Game 7: No. 1 Saint John's vs. No. 4 St. Thomas | Box Score | Recap |
All Playoff information including seedings, scores and recaps can be found on the 2018 MIAC Baseball Playoffs. Fans can also follow the action on the MIAC Scoreboard, on the free MIAC mobile app, and on social media through the MIAC's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.