As the saying goes, baseball is sometimes a game of inches. That was the margin between Hamline and St. Thomas in their conference opening doubleheader. Unfortunately for HU, it was the Tommies who came up with the winning hits by ... well ... inches.
Hamline lost both ends of the doubleheader, 3-1 and 5-4 in eight innings. In both games, HU had a chance to tie or win it in their last at-bat. In both games, the winning hits were inches from being outs.
Take the second game first. Mark Radmacher's two-RBI triple in the third inning gave HU a 3-1 lead. The Tommies got a run back in the sixth and then went ahead in the seventh with two runs. The second run came when Jordan Rubbelke's throw to the plate on a slowly hit ground ball was ... you guessed it ... inches too late. The Pipers didn't take this affront lying down. In the bottom of the inning, pinch-hitter Jordan Buck walked. Devon LaCoursiere ran for him. The next two batters went out but Ben Richardson and Radmacher singled to tie the game at 4.
That sent the game into extra innings. UST had the bases loaded with two out when a line drive up the middle deflected off pitcher Rannon Arch to make it 5-4. An inch or two, Arch makes the catch and the game goes on. Instead ...
This time, unfortunately, the Pipers had nothing left and the game ended on that sour note.
In the opener, one bad inning -- the top of the first -- did the Pipers in. With a runner on base, starter Matt Mullendore (1-2) gave up a pair of two out walks and a pair of singles (one of which never left the infield) that produced three UST runs. After that, relievers Dylan Olson and Matt Eickman slammed the door shut, allowing just three hits and no runners past first base. The Pipers broke through in the fifth when Dan Ellefson singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch.
The Pipers threatened in the seventh, putting two runners on base before Jordan Rubbelke hit a sinking liner to left field that was caught at the shoetops to end the game.
As a result, Hamline is 0-2 in the MIAC and 8-12 overall. They return to action next Wednesday at Bethel.
Game 1 boxscore
Game 2 boxscore