St. Norbert Wins MWC North, Gets First Road Sweep of Ripon Since 1978

From Sports Information Director, May 4, 2008 | Baseball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

RIPON - St. Norbert College put the finishing touches on its third Midwest Conference North Division Championship in four years with a 4-2, 8-2 doubleheader sweep of Ripon College at Francis Field.

The sweep, the first for the Green Knights in Ripon since April 26, 1978, put St. Norbert at 24-9 overall and 13-3 in the MWC North. Ripon, ranked 23rd nationally by D3baseball.com, finished the regular-season at 25-8, 12-4.

St. Norbert will face South Divison runner-up Monmouth College at Glasgow Field in Monmouth, Ill., on Friday morning. Ripon will face South Division champion Knox College, a 9-7 winner over Monmouth in a playoff today, at Blodgett Field in Galesburg, Ill., also on Friday.

The Green Knights need some late-inning offense to provide the victories in both games. St. Norbert erased a 2-1 lead in the opener with two runs in the seventh and one in the ninth. In the nightcap, the Green Knights broke a scoreless tie with seven runs in the top of the sixth.

St. Norbert pushed two runs across in the seventh inning of the opener to take a 3-2 lead. Jared Yost singled in Mike Wallerich, who had singled to open the inning. Bryan Stoppenbach then singled to left to plate Yost. The Green Knights added an insurance run in the ninth when Cory Fuller hit an infield single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Stoppenbach stroked a base hit to center to score Fuller.

Jake Gasser pitched 8 1/3 innings for St. Norbert, scattering 10 hits with two walks and three strikeouts to improve to 5-1. Jordan Vater came on with two on in the ninth and coaxed a double-play ball to end the game for his third save of the year.

Stoppenbach and Wallerich were both 2-for-4 for St. Norbert. Nick Whitty was 3-for-4 for the Red Hawks.

Things were quiet in the second game until St. Norbert scored seven times in the sixth. Brett Birkholz walked and Adam Frost was hit by a pitch. Alex Byrne then bunted for a hit to load the bases. Jandron singled up the middle for two runs, and Byrne then stole home when the Ripon defense was inattentive following the play. Jandron later scored on a wild pitch. Stoppenbach came through again with a two-run double, and Birkholz singled him in to cap off the uprising.

Yost hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. Jandron also extended his hitting streak to 22 games in the twinbill. Frost went hitless in the opener to have his hitting streak stopped at 20. Jandron, Birkholz and Byrne all had two hits apiece in game two.

Ripon scored a run in the eighth and left the bases loaded for its last gasp. The Red Hawks, who were batting .420 in Midwest Conference action entering the St. Norbert series, were held to five hits in the nightcap and hit just .209 in the series.

Trevin Hillesheim improved to 7-0 on the season, working 7 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits and worked around six walks while striking out two.