Green Knights Tumble to No. 4 St. Thomas to Open NCAA Regional

From Sports Information Director, May 16, 2012 | Baseball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

WHITEWATER - St. Norbert College had its chances to spring an upset to open the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional but dropped a 5-1 decision to top-seeding University of St. Thomas at Prucha Field.

The Green Knights (26-12) will face Concordia University Chicago (33-13) at 10 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game. St. Thomas (35-8), ranked No. 4 in this week's D3baseball.com Top 25, will play UW-Whitewater (30-15) at 4 p.m. Thursday. The Warhawks clipped Concordia-Chicago 2-1 in 10 innings in the opening game of the regional.

St. Norbert jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the third inning. Chris Laux reached on an infield single and advanced to second on Troy Rottier's sacrifice bunt. Following an out, Matt Hannon laced a double down the left-field line to plate the run.

The Green Knights had a golden opportunity in the fifth inning to extend their lead. With one out, Laux walked followed by a single from Rottier. Nick Pierre then reached on an infield error to load the bases. St. Thomas ace Bryce Gapinski then wiggled off the hook by striking out Hannon and getting Travis Mason to ground out to end the inning.

That was enough to turn the momentum the Tommies' way, as they scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Dylan Thomas walked with the bases loaded and two outs to tie the game at 1-1, followed by Charles Bruchu's two-run single for a 3-1 St. Thomas lead. All three runs in the inning were unearned.

St. Thomas then put the game out of reach with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. The Tommies finished with seven hits but managed to work St. Norbert starter Kevin Nutley for seven walks.

Rottier was 2-for-2 for St. Norbert, while Chad Ljunggren was 2-for-4. Nutley went all eight innings for the Green Knights, striking out four and allowing two earned runs in addition to the seven hits and seven walks.

Gapinski, now 9-0 on the season, scattered seven hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts.