No. 2-ranked St. Thomas opens its 2013 baseball season Sunday night in the Metrodome against Coe (Iowa). The teams will play two seven-inning games starting at approximately 8:15.
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Coe went 29-17 last season including a 2-2 mark in the NCAA regional tournament in Oregon. All-America Nick Stein (.355, 59 hits in 46 games) and three top pitchers return for the Kohawks.
Coach Chris Olean’s Tommies graduated seven seniors but have returners set to start in seven position spots. He also brings back five of his top six pitchers from a 41-10 team that placed third in the nation. Two All-Americas, senior Dylan Thomas and junior Steve Maher, lead the pitching staff, while juniors J.D. Dorgan (catcher) and Tim Kuzniar (LF), senior Jon Kinsel (SS), and sophs Jack Hogan (3B) and Ben Podobinski (CF) lead the field returners.
Maher closed his 2012 UST season with a 13-2 record and two saves with a 2.77 ERA, while posting 105 strikeouts and just 22 walks.
At the plate, Thomas batted .361 over his last 29 games in the lineup with 39 hits, 13 walks, 33 RBI, six HRs and 23 runs. On the mound he went 8-0 with an 0.98 ERA in his last 11 appearances, including a complete-game win over eventual NCAA champ Marietta at the College World Series, his third postseason victory.
Dorgan has played 91 career games with 96 hits, 64 RBI, 56 runs, 16 walks, nine HRs,and 23 doubles. Kuzniar has played in 90 career games with 99 hits, 64 runs and 52 RBI while batting .340. Hogan hit safely in his last 14 games last season. He went 10-for-23 in Appleton and batted .400 over his last 22 games (22-of-55). He joined Thomas on the 11-player College World Series All-Tournament team.
Statistically, St. Thomas ranked first nationally in two categories in 2012 in its third-place NCAA finish -- its .975 fielding percentage, and 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
UST has 18 varsity letterwinners back. At least two transfers and several players up from the junior-varsity program will help the Tommie depth.
St. Thomas will play four tough Metrodome doubleheaders in a 15-day stretch to start the season. They play again in the Dome on March 4 against St. Scholastica.
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