ST. PAUL, Minn. – Saint John's University is headed back to the NCAA Tournament after sweeping Gustavus in a pair of games Saturday afternoon in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) baseball playoff finale at CHS Field. The Johnnies utilized late inning heroics and strong bullpen play to defeat the previously-unbeaten Gusties, 4-3, and force a second game. Propelled by a three-run seventh inning and another outstanding pitching effort, Saint John's topped Gustavus, 4-1, in the final contest to win its fourth MIAC Playoff championship and first since 2016.
NO. 2 SAINT JOHN'S 4, NO. 1 GUSTAVUS 3
Saint John's scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to hand Gustavus its first loss of the tournament, 4-3, and ensure the two teams would meet for a second time on Saturday afternoon at CHS Field. Jack Schramel tied the game at 3-3 with an RBI single to right field, scoring Wyatt Ulrich before Max Jackson crossed home plate on an error when the Gusties failed to field a Jack Wingerd bunt. Gustavus made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, advancing Dexter Leer to third base on a pair of wild pitches with two outs, but Nathan Brandecker was able to strike Brice Panning out to preserve the Johnnie victory. Wyatt Ulrich continued to star at the plate for Saint John's, going 3-for-4 in the game, including a leadoff, stand-up triple to begin the game. Brandecker allowed two runs on one hit with two walks in five innings of work.
NO. 2 SAINT JOHN'S, NO. 1 GUSTAVUS
A three-run seventh inning and a Tommy Auger three-hitter gave Saint John's its fourth MIAC Playoff championship in program history, as the Johnnies defeated Gustavus, 4-1, in the final game of the 2019 MIAC Baseball Playoffs. Momentum was on SJU's side early, as Jack Schramel flied out to left field to score Wyatt Ulrich and put the Johnnies up in the top of the first. Senior pitcher Tommy Auger took a hard comebacker off the shin early in the game but remained on the mound, not allowing a hit through the first four-and-a-third. The Gusties got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when the Johnnies mishandled a hard-hit ball by Sam Archer, enabling Brice Panning to score. Wyatt Ulrich sent a liner down the right field line to score pinch-runner Taylor Fourre in the top of the seventh and put the Johnnies back on top. Max Jackson entered the batter's box next and cleared the bases with a two-run single to put SJU on top 4-1.
Following the final game, Saint John's was presented with the MIAC Baseball Playoff Championship plaque. The Johnnies also received the Conference's automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament. All eyes now turn to Monday's bracket announcement, where the Gusties will hope for an at-large bid to the "Big Dance." Gustavus is ranked No. 5 in the latest NCAA Midwest Region Rankings. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced Monday on NCAA.com. The MIAC would like to thank the Hamline University staff and coaches, as well as the staff of the St. Paul Saints, for their efforts to host the 2019 MIAC Baseball Playoffs at CHS Field.
MIAC BASEBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Game 1: No. 1 Gustavus 5, No. 4 Saint Mary's 2
Game 2: No. 2 Saint John's 6, No. 3 St. Olaf 3
Friday, May 10, 2019
Game 3: No. 1 Gustavus 9, No. 2 Saint John's 5
Game 4: No. 3 St. Olaf 10, No. 4 Saint Mary's 9
Game 5: No. 2 Saint John's 8, No. 3 St. Olaf 4
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Game 6: No. 2 Saint John's 4, No. 1 Gustavus 3
Game 7: No. 2 Saint John's 4, No. 1 Gustavus 1