Molin mows 'em down, leads Baseball

Molin mows 'em down, leads Baseball

By DOUG HENNES

COLD SPRING – Drew Molin stopped to think for a moment about the question and then nodded. "Yeah, best game I've pitched," he said. "Especially given the stakes."

Not only his best game but a flawless game from a scorekeeper's standpoint, with nine goose eggs on the board for the visitors, as St. Thomas edged St. John's 1-0 Thursday night in the opening round of the MIAC baseball playoffs.

The game's only run came on a wild pitch that scored Jake Smith from third base in the sixth inning. 

The 10-strikeout performance by Molin, a junior southpaw from Cottage Grove who played at East Ridge High, moved St. Thomas (26-14) into the winners' bracket of the three-day, double-elimination tournament at St. John's and in Cold Spring.

The Tommies will play Macalester, a 5-3 winner over top-seeded Bethel in the other opening-round game, at 3 p.m. Friday at St. John's.

"I had good fastball and curveball command," said Molin, who threw 101 pitches (66 strikes and 35 balls) and allowed only five base runners on two hits, two hit batters and a walk. "They had so many lefties (six) in the lineup, and they tried to hit the ball the other way. I was lucky to get in there and jam them a few times." 

St. Thomas coach Chris Olean marveled at Molin's performance, but wasn't surprised.

"The reasons we started him are that he has thrown the ball great lately, and they had a whole lot of lefties who we didn't think would match up well against him," Olean said. "He made his pitches and moved them around enough to keep them off guard." 

As well as Molin pitched, St. John's starter Jake Dickmeyer was as nearly effective. He allowed only three base runners, on two singles and a fielding error, through the first five innings.

"I was not happy with our approaches at the plate," Olean said. "We let him dictate the pace of the game too much. We did hit the ball hard a few times, but right at people." 

St. Thomas finally broke through in the sixth. Smith stroked a one-out double down the right-field line and moved to third on Zach Gottfredsen's fly ball to deep center. On a 1-2 pitch to Sam Cobbs, Dickmeyer bounced a pitch in front of home plate and past the catcher, and Smith ran in for the 1-0 lead.

Molin handcuffed the Johnnies (25-12) the rest of the way. He had retired eight straight batters before a one-out double in the sixth but stranded that runner with a ground out and a strikeout. He then set down 10 consecutive batters before a two-out walk in the ninth. The game ended on an unassisted ground out to first baseman Hunter Hart.

After the game, Olean glanced into right field and shook his head.

"It's amazing to look at the scoreboard and see only one run," he said. "Now that's good playoff baseball."

 

UST Notes

  • In his last four starts, Molin is 3-0 with an 0.97 ERA and 35 strikeouts and just three walks in 27.2 innings;
  • Joe Burnley went 2-for-3 and in three games against St. John's is hitting 7-for-9 (.777);
  • Jake Smith extended his hitting streak to eight games and is batting .400 (14-of-35) in that span;
  • This was the Toms' second 1-0 win of the season. Henry DeCaster shutout Wartburg in March in U.S. Bank Stadium;
  • In his last four starts, Molin is 3-0 with an 0.97 ERA and 35 strikeouts and just three walks in 27.2 innings;
  • The Toms are 16-1 this season when they hold opponents to two or less runs, and 22-2 when they outhit opponents;
  • The victory let the Toms end a four-game postseason losing streak;
  • UST's 3-0 record thus far against the Johnnies includes a 3-2 decision with the winning run via a balk, and this victory won via a wild pitch.