Sophomore Steve Maher flirted with a perfect game but salvaged a win Wednesday as the No. 3-ranked Toms held off a Macalester rally to win 3-2 in game one of their MIAC baseball doubleheader at Koch Diamond.
The first-place Tommies (24-4 overall, 12-0 MIAC) added a 3-1 victory in the nightcap. They ran their season win streak to 15, their home-field win string to 22, and their MIAC regular-season win streak to 24.
St. Thomas survived seventh-inning rallies in each game and got complete-game decisions from righthanders Steve Maher (9-0) and Dylan Thomas (4-2).
In game two, Mac had eight hits but stranded two runners in the fourth and seventh innings, and had a runner tagged at home to end the second inning on a throw from UST centerfielder Ben Podobinski to catcher J.D. Dorgan.
In Mac's fourth inning, an infield hit and double put runners on second and third with none out, but Thomas struck out three batters to end the inning.
Thomas lost his shutout with two outs in the seventh on Graham Brown's RBI single, but he got a game-ending ground out. Thomas allowed eight hits, one walk and one run and struck out five. In three conference starts, all against MIAC playoff hopefuls, he's 3-0 in 20 innings with 25 strikeouts, two walks and a 1.35 ERA.
UST made the most of four hits in game two. It scored all three runs with two out in the second after a walk, throwing error on a bunt and a bunt single loaded the bases with none out. Starter Chase Kahn got two outs, but Podobinski's wind-blown smash to left center turned the Mac fielder around and he was unable to glove the ball, resulting in a three-run triple -- all unearned due to the previous error.
In game one, Maher retired the first 18 batters in order with six strikeouts, 10 grounders and two fly balls.
Facing the top of the order in the seventh inning, Maher walked the leadoff man to lose a perfect game. Ross Bronfenrenner broke up the no-hit bid with a sinking liner that UST's Tim Kuzniar dove for in left field. Kuzniar couldn't glove the ball, which rolled to the fence for an RBI triple. Mitch Glasser's RBI ground out cut the lead to 3-2.
Robert Williams struck out but reached on a wild pitch. A one-out single by Garrett Salzman put runners at first and second. But Maher got a 6-4-3 double play on a close call at first to end the game and strand the tying run at third base.
Maher finished for a two-hitter with one walk and seven strikeouts. He's the first Tommie pitcher in 15 seasons to start a season 9-0, and he has a 1.46 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Two-out first-inning RBI singles by Nick Reichert and J.D. Dorgan gave UST a 2-0 lead. Kuzniar's two-out RBI single in the second inning made it 3-0. Kuzniar finished 2-for-3, and Charles Bruchu was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run.
UST had no errors on the day and has gone 56 consecutive innings without an error. In six home wins over St. Mary's, St. John's and Macalester over the last 10 days, Tommie pitchers have had five complete games and allowed just seven runs.
Click here for Game 1 box score:
Click here for Game 2 box score:
Greg Smith took photos Wednesday, and some are displayed here. To view more Greg Smith action photos, click here:
Jon Kinsel (Greg Smith photo)
Tim Kuzniar (Greg Smith photo)
Dylan Thomas (Greg Smith photo)
Charles Bruchu (5), Steve Maher (17) (Greg Smith photo)
Sam Miller, above and below (Greg Smith photo)