Junior Kierstin Anderson-Glass threw a five-hit shutout over 11 innings and Sam Birling's RBI squeeze bunt plated the game's only run as No. 4-ranked and host St. Thomas Softball walked-off Hamline 1-0 in 11 innings in the championship game of the 2019 MIAC Softball Playoffs at St. Thomas' South Field.
It was the longest game in the 16-year history of the conference tournament, topping a 10-inning St. Thomas victory over Hamline in the 2016 playoffs.
The Tommies (38-5) won the playoff crown for the 14th time and improved to 47-6 in the 16-year history of the event. They have won 23 of their last 24 games.
The Pipers needed a victory to force a rematch with St. Thomas for a chance to win the playoff championship and its automatic ticket into the NCAA playoffs. They were chasing their first MIAC playoff crown but took second for the third time.
Coach John Tschida's Tommie team outscored three playoff opponents 5-0, as Anderson-Glass and her defensive teammates didn't allow a run over 25 innings. Hamline didn't have a runner reach third base until the top of the 11th, but a ground out ended that threat.
Sophomore Alex Malloy pitched an excellent game for the Pipers (25-17). She allowed 12 hits, all singles, and stranded 12 Tommie runners over the first nine innings.
Megan Baniecke had two walks and two singles for St. Thomas, including a walk to open the bottom of the 11th. Pinch runner Marina O'Leary was bunted to second, and took third on an single by Rachel Suter. Birling pinch hit and laid down a perfect bunt the brought home pinch runner Marina O'Leary from third ahead of the tag.
The Purple's Jaylen Heller made a diving catch in the top of the ninth inning in center field to rob the Pipers' Theresa Klinnert of a leadoff hit. That catch loomed large moments later after a double by Kira Krueger and an intentional walk to Megan Rubbelke before a ground out ended that threat.
St. Thomas senior Chase Shortly went 3-for-5 and now has 199 career hits in 180 games.
The Tommies, top-seed in the region, will learn their NCAA tournament pairing on Monday and likely will play host to a four-team regional next weekend.