Green Knights Win Two to Open MWC Tournament

From Sports Information Director, May 9, 2014 | Baseball
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

RIPON - St. Norbert College jumped into the driver's seat of the Midwest Conference Tournament by opening with two wins on the first day. The Green Knights claimed a 14-7 win over Grinnell College in their tournament opener in Fond du Lac, and then held on for a 7-5 win over defending MWC champion Ripon College at Francis Field.

The Green Knights (22-14) will open the championship round at 1 p.m. Saturday in Ripon. Ripon and Grinnell will square off in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that game must beat St. Norbert twice to win the league championship.

St. Norbert jumped out to a big lead against Ripon before surviving some tense moments late. The Green Knights broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Chad Ljunggren's infield single put St. Norbert ahead 1-0, and Travis Mason followed with an RBI groundout for a 2-0 advantage. Alex Larsen then had a two-out two-run double to put the Green Knights ahead 4-0.

Ripon (24-14) got one run back in the top of the sixth but the Green Knights countered in the bottom of the inning with two more runs. Derek Klegin had an RBI double and Ljunggren a squeeze bunt for a 6-1 lead. Larsen then hit a solo home run with one out in the seventh for a 7-1 lead.

The Red Hawks scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning but left the bases loaded, and scored twice more in the ninth and had the potential tying run at the plate but couldn't extend the game.

Kevin Nutley went eight-plus innings to improve to 6-3. Nutley allowed eight hits, walked six and struck out three. Jake McMahon recorded the three ninth-inning outs to close out the game.

Larsen finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while Cameron Jerina was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Klegin was was 2-for-3, while Nick Pierre was 2-for-4.

Against Grinnell, St. Norbert banged out 19 hits in the win. The Pioneers scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning but St. Norbert would score in five of the next seven innings to pull away.

Pierre would drive in a run in the top of the second with a single, while Adam Enwiya and Pierre would score later in the inning on wild pitches. St. Norbert scored four runs in the fifth on a two-run double by Jose Godinez, an RBI bunt single by Larsen and an RBI fielder's choice by Pierre for a 7-2 lead.

Grinnell scored once in the fifth, but St. Norbert got two more in the sixth on a two-run single by Ljunggren. Jerina had an RBI single in the seventh, and Larsen socked a three-run home run to key a four-run eighth inning.

Klegin, Larsen and Pierre all had three hits and two runs scored apiece. Larsen drove in four runs, while Pierre, Ljunggren and Godinez all had two RBIs each.

Matt Freeman went the first seven innings to improve to 5-3. Freeman allowed eight hits, three runs, two walks and struck out five.