It may have been the conference-opener for both the Saint Mary’s University and Gustavus baseball teams Friday afternoon, but it already had the makings of a heavyweight title bout.
In the black and gold corner, Gustavus stepped into the ring boasting an unblemished 3-0 record, while outscoring their opponents by an astronomical 40-8.
In the red and navy corner, Saint Mary’s came in with a near-perfect 5-1 mark, not to mention a pitching staff ERA of 1.02 and an opposing team batting average of .205.
In other words, it was a classic Goliath versus Goliath.
And after 16 rounds of haymakers and jabs, the unanimous decision … a draw.
Gustavus flexed its muscles in the early rounds, getting to the Cardinals’ untouchable pitching staff for 10 runs in a 10-3 victory in the opener.
But the later rounds — especially the really later rounds — belonged to Saint Mary’s, as the Cardinals took a page out of the Gusties’ heavy-hitting playbook to score three runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh en route to a 9-5 game-two win and a split of the teams’ Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) doubleheader at Max Molock Field.
After holding the high-powered Gusties at bay for the first three inning in the openers, Gustavus tagged SMU starter Ryan Wolfe, of Wabasha, for five runs in the top of the fourth inning, before tacking on two more in the fifth and three in the sixth.
Saint Mary’s scored three times in the bottom of the seventh, but it was too little, too late.
Taylor Anderson went 2-for-3 in game ibe, with Tyler O’Brien, Kodey Kiel, Justin Weinberg, Mitchell Feyereisen, Joey Costello, and David French, of Winona, all added one hit.
Gustavus appeared to be ready for deliver the knockout punch in the nightcap, scoring single runs in each of the first five innings to grab a 5-0 lead.
The Cardinals, however, survived the Gusties’ second-game jabs, and answered with a 1-2 knock-out punch of their own, scoring the game’s final eight runs — one in the fifth, three in the sixth and four in the seventh — to seal the win.
Weinberg and Will Matthews picked up two hits each, while Matthews and Andy Tepp both had a pair of RBIs in the nightcap.
Jordan Zabel earned his first collegiate pitching win, tossing three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief.