Reporting Eric Nelson
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The University of St. Thomas baseball team got off to a slow start this spring, but got hot at just the right time: Right Before this weekend’s MIAC Tournament.
The Tommies enter the playoffs having won 15 of their last 16 regular season games. It’s a stretch that included doubleheader sweeps of Concordia-Moorhead, St. Olaf, Macalester and St. Mary’s.
“We’re on a roll, so I’m just going to keep riding it as long as we can and keep the guys positive. Certainly, the other teams in the tournament are good,” said Chris Olean, the Tommies head coach.
St. Thomas, St. John’s, Macalester and Hamline will battle this weekend for the right to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
A team’s turning point usually comes late in the season, but the Tommies had theirs in April when they stunned the University of Minnesota with an 8-3 victory at Siebert Field. Knocking off a Big Ten power gave St. Thomas a jolt of confidence.
“Absolutely. You know they’re a D-I team and we’ve got a lot of respect for those guys. To beat a Division I team is obviously a boost and it gives your guys some confidence,” said Taylor Rahm, a senior outfielder for the Tommies.
“That’s the best collegiate team in the state. So if we can beat those guys, I’m pretty sure we can probably beat everybody else,” said Kris Edwards, a senior pitcher.
The Tommies are led offensively by freshman catcher J.D. Dorgan, who is batting .398 on the season. Rahm is one of the team’s top outfielders, and Edwards is leading the pitching staff with seven saves.
The baseball team is hoping to cap quite an athletic year at St. Thomas. The men’s basketball program won the MIAC title and NCAA Division III title in March, and the football team won the MIAC last fall. With the baseball team’s regular season MIAC crown, it’s the first time in 73 years in the MIAC that one school has won titles in football, basketball and baseball.
Players on the baseball team said the basketball team’s national title run is a motivator for them.
“I know some of the guys on the basketball team, and we actually won the national title two years ago. When they won, they came around and said they were going to show off their ring. We said ‘Well hey, we’re going to try to get another one,’” Edwards said.
The MIAC Playoffs are this weekend at Veteran’s Field in Minnetonka. The championship game is slated for Sunday afternoon.