St. Norbert Pushes Ripon to the Brink But Drops Epic Battle for MWC Title

From Sports Information Director, May 11, 2013 | Baseball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

RIPON - It wasn't meant to be.

St. Norbert College played 32 innings Saturday - with 75 this calendar week - and still almost pulled off an epic comeback but fell in Game 7 of the Midwest Conference Baseball Championship to Ripon College 11-8 in 13 innings at Francis Field. The Green Knights topped Knox College 11-2 and Ripon 5-2 in 10 innings earlier in the day to force the decisive seventh game.

Ripon (24-14) earned the MWC's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament with the win. The Red Hawks and Green Knights met seven times this season, with Ripon taking the season series four games to three.

The Green Knights, who matched a school-record for wins this season finishing 27-13, trailed 8-2 going into the bottom of the eighth in the championship game. St. Norbert scored six times in the inning, and tied the game at 8-8 on Alex Larsen's bases-clearing double.

Troy Rottier and Jose Godinez had RBI singles in the eighth to cut the deficit to 8-4. Travis Mason walked with the bases loaded to make it 8-5. Following an out, Larsen hit a booming double to left field to tie the game.

The Green Knights had runners in scoring position in the ninth and 11th innings but couldn't bring home the game-winning run. Ripon, who had its leadoff hitter retired to start the 13th inning, put together four hits with one St. Norbert error to score its three game-winning runs.

St. Norbert took a 2-0 lead early on RBI singles from Nick Dagneau and Rottier. Ripon scored twice in the fourth inning, and then scored four runs on five hits and one St. Norbert error in the sixth. The Red Hawks also added two runs in the eighth inning for an 8-2 lead.

Ripon outhit St. Norbert 20-12, but the Green Knights drew a season-high 11 walks from five Red Hawks pitchers. Larsen and Godinez each had three hits for the Green Knights, while Rottier had two. Both teams left 17 runners on base in the game, and there were only three extra-base hits.

Kevin Nutley ended up being charged with the loss, allowing one earned run in four innings of relief. Tom Fish earned the win for Ripon, allowing two hits and no runs in 5 1/3 innings of relief.

In the first Ripon game, the Green Knights' Brett Nohr and the Red Hawks' Steven Blader locked up in a classic pitchers' duel. St. Norbert scored a run in the top of the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead, but Ripon scored in the bottom of the frame to tie the game. The Red Hawks also loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but Nohr coaxed a double play to end the threat.

Ripon had a runner at third base with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Nohr again wiggled off the hook to set up Ripon's three-run 10th inning. Two runs scored on a wild pitch and another run came home on a Larsen bunt single.

Nohr went all 10 innings, allowing 11 hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Larsen was 3-for-5, while Godinez and Brandon Kozinski also had three hits apiece. Marshall Zahn, who came in to start the eighth inning for Blader, took the loss.

Against Knox, St. Norbert scored two runs in the top of the first and was never seriously threatened in the game. Mason and Nick Pierre had RBIs in the first inning. Dagneau, Brandon Kozinski and Rottier had RBI singles in the fourth, and Mason followed with a grand slam for a 10-1 lead after an eight-run fourth inning.

Mason threw a complete game, allowing six hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Mason was 2-for-5 with five RBIs. Chad Ljunggren was 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Larsen was also 2-for-5.