Saints knock off North Park in Regional openerThe Saints (34-9) now face Aurora (Ill.) University (38-8), a 2-1 winner over No. 2 seed UW-La Crosse, today at 7 p.m.
WHITEWATER — The St. Scholastica baseball team first erased an early 4-0 deficit and then had to rally from two runs down to ultimately defeat the No. 3 seed North Park University 8-7 in the opening round of the NCAA Whitewater Regional Tournament on Wednesday.
CSS took its only lead of the game in the top of the eighth when Parker Olson hit a two-out double to score Jon Kusch all the way from first base to make it 8-7. However, making it to that point was neither easy nor pretty.
After the Saints had a runner picked off at second in the top of the first, the Vikings’ offense was ready to go in their half of the inning. A walk, an error and a pair of hits got three runs across in the inning for North Park as it took an early 3-0 lead. A leadoff single followed by a RBI double extended the Viking lead to 4-0 after two innings.
The Saints pushed their first run across in the top of the third when Andy Schwantes hit a ground-rule double, which scored John Hietpas. CSS kept it going in the fourth inning when Brandon Peterson hit a RBI single to score Kyle Moody. Then with two outs, Schwantes stroked a two-run double to tie the score at 4-4.
North Park (32-13) responded in its half of the fourth with a pair of runs in the inning to regain the lead at 6-4, but would leave the bases loaded.
After the fifth inning went scoreless, both teams traded runs in the sixth. Schwantes again hit a RBI double to cut the lead to 6-5, but the Vikings took advantage of a St. Scholastica error to make it a two-run lead again at 7-5.
After two quick groundouts in the top of the seventh, Moody had an infield single and Jake Casareto followed with a double to put runners at second and third. Tom Juberian then stepped to the plate and ripped a two-RBI single to right center to tie the game at 7-7.
Moving to the eighth, CSS once again had two outs and no one on base, after another pickoff, when Kusch drew a walk. Olson came up next and ripped a double to right center scoring Kusch to give the Saints the lead.
The Vikings got the leadoff batter on base in the top of the eighth and the Saints went to their closer Thomas Rogers, who proceeded to sit North Park down in order to get out of the inning.
Moving to the bottom of the ninth, the Vikings again got the leadoff batter on base and would eventually move him to third base with two outs, but Rogers induced a ground ball to short and Casareto flicked it over to first to end the game and give the Saints the 8-7 win.
Ben Grieger improved to 5-0, picking up the win in relief. Grieger went three innings, scattering four hits and allowing only one unearned run. Rogers picked up his fourth save of the season. Kyle Jensen, who started for the Saints, allowed 10 hits in four innings of work.
Schwantes finished 3-for-3 with four RBIs to lead the CSS offense. Olson also recorded three hits. The Vikings out-hit the Saints 15-12, marking just the second time all season the Saints won when being out-hit.
The opening round win for the Saints is the first since the 2009 regional in Oshkosh when they defeated St. Norbert College 7-6 in 11 innings. CSS is now 4-5 in NCAA regional tournament openers. This was the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
It was also the first at the Whitewater Regional which saw a lower seed come out victorious. Earlier in the day, No. 4 seeded University of Wisconsin-Whitewater defeated No. 5 seeded Concordia University-Chicago 2-1 in 10 innings. Then top seeded University of St. Thomas took care of eighth-seeded St. Norbert College 5-1.
The Saints (34-9) now face Aurora (Ill.) University (38-8), a 2-1 winner over No. 2 seed UW-La Crosse, today at 7 p.m.
All of the action can be heard live on csssaints.com.