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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Early loss gives way to offensive eruption

The Bethel University Royals baseball team trounced St. Olaf to claim their third straight MIAC Championship Saturday night despite losing to the Oles earlier in the day.
Aiden Penner
reshman pitcher Jackson Hunter’s teammates greet him following his relief in the seventh inning of the MIAC Championship. Hunter tied his career high in innings (seven) and threw a career high with nine strikeouts to win the Royals their third straight conference title. “We’ve been through a lot this season, faced a lot of adversity,” Hunter said. “At one point we didn’t think we’d be here. Now we’re winning it — it’s special.”

After sweeping the winner’s bracket with a 14-2 rout of St. Olaf Friday night, led by a stellar seven-inning complete game by ace John Solfest on the mound, the Bethel University baseball team met the Oles once again Saturday afternoon in the MIAC Championship.

Having already won twice, the Royals needed one more win to claim the MIAC playoff crown in the double elimination tournament.  

Under a sunny blue sky at CHS field and among rowdy chants from behind the Royals’ dugout, junior Max Sutter started game one for Bethel. In his previous start against St. Olaf April 18, Sutter gave up 11 earned runs on 11 hits in 1.2 innings. Saturday’s start was a much different performance for the righty. Working seven innings, Sutter gave up four earned runs, keeping the score close for Bethel. He exited the game down 4-3.

In the eighth, Royals’ third baseman Jordan Krupke blasted a solo home run into the Ole bullpen to tie the game at four. A pair of walks brought Zach Thompson to the plate with the go- ahead run in scoring position. Thompson grounded one through the left side of the infield, bringing home the go-ahead run. 

Ryan Parker entered in the bottom half of the eighth looking to hold the lead. Two Oles managed to reach base, chasing Parker from the game and giving way to Solfest, who threw 114 pitches in Friday’s game. Solfest gave up a two-run single to Ole right fielder Frank Lavin, surrendering the lead. The Oles held on to win 6-5 and forced a winner-take-all game two.

Many Bethel students made the 15-minute trip to CHS Field in St. Paul to watch the MIAC Championship. From “left, right, left, right, left, right, sit down!” following an Ole batter strikeout to announcing how many consecutive balls an Ole pitcher had thrown, their chants boomed around the stadium throughout the game. “We’re glad to have them. They gave us a lot of energy,” junior right-fielder Isaac Call said. “It was a ton of fun with them. It made the games a little bit more fun to play.” (Aiden Penner)

Low on fresh arms, the Royals sent freshman Jackson Hunter to the mound for the first time in the tournament. Boasting a 7.22 regular season earned run average, Hunter turned in six innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts and two walks. By the time he was relieved in the bottom of the seventh, the score reached its eventual final: 12-1 in favor of Bethel. 

“Everything was working, didn’t really have to fall [back] on anything,” Hunter said. “I was the right guy for the spot. Didn’t wanna make it bigger than it was — just a ball game.” 

The Oles drew first blood on a Brian Nevin RBI single to right. Bethel responded by pushing across the tying run in the top of the third on a Noah Wenberg line drive single past the glove of the diving Ole third base. Isaac Call gave the Royals the lead, smacking a solo home run into the Ole bullpen. 

“It was a good pitch, I put a good swing on it,” Call said. “It helped give us some momentum.” 

The Bethel bats broke the game wide open in the sixth, bringing home six runs on five hits for a commanding 12-1 lead. 

With this win, the Royals earn an automatic bid to the NCAA regionals starting Friday, May 17, with the location and opponents to be announced Monday at 11 a.m.

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About the Contributors
Aiden Penner, Staff Reporter
Aiden Penner, 19, is a freshman journalism major. His favorite activities are snatching every rebound in pick-up basketball, driving the combine during harvest on his farm and researching obscure statistics on Baseball-Reference. His biggest flex is that he met Carl Azuz. [email protected] | 507.621.4619
Christopher Wrzesien, Staff Reporter
CJ Wrzesien, 24, is a communication major and journalism minor. He enjoys watching baseball, playing the guitar and playing the immaculate grid daily. If you need random sports information he's your guy. [email protected] | 407.937.9251

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