Scots swept by St. Olaf, still in playoff hunt

By Will Kennedy

Saying that Macalester baseball must be perfect from now on to make the MIAC playoffs would be an overstatement. But, after a sweep at the hands of nationally ranked St. Olaf in its conference opener, the Scots will have to be-at the least-very, very good from here on out.”When you’re off to an 0-2 start, it’s an uphill battle,” head coach Matt Parrington said. “As I told the guys, when there are only 20 games [in a season] every game is a big game.”

Fighting for one of four playoff spots in a league of 11 teams is a difficult task, complicated by the fact that you can pencil in baseball powerhouses St. Olaf and St. Thomas to lock two of the top spots. Macalester last won a berth by securing fourth place with a 12 win season in 2000, the first year of the MIAC baseball playoffs. Since then, the team has yet to repeat the accomplishment.

With the remaining teams relatively equal according to Parrington, the Scots have a legitimate shot of making the post-season, but they will not be getting any easy wins along the way. “There are no pushovers in the conference,” he said.

To break into the MIAC’s elite teams, the Scots will look to exploit some advantages the team has gained in the off-season. “We have more depth than we have had in the past and offensively we’ve made some big strides,” Parrington said. A talented recruiting class has accounted for some of these improvements, giving Parrington the ability to substitute for injured or struggling players, and creating more competition for each spot.

Veterans have done their part for the squad, as Chris Papalia ’07 and Kyle Goerschler ’07 lead the team in average and RBIs respectively, while Ted Kimble ’07 enters the year as a premier MIAC starting pitcher.

During their spring break trip to Arizona, the Scots demonstrated their potential, knocking off The College of New Jersey-then the fourth ranked Division III team in the nation. “We started off really good,” Papalia said of the performance. “The top of lineup clicked and we batted around in the first inning and scored five runs. Kimble pitched a great game, and we just rode our wave.”

Kimble’s complete game effort earned him the MIAC pitcher of the week award, but the Scots have had trouble carrying the momentum of their successful trip back to the Midwest, winning just three of their last eight games.

Last Monday, the Scots looked to begin a winning streak against ranked opponents in the 2007 season, as they sent Kimble to the mound against St. Olaf in game one. The left handed ace gave up only two runs in six innings but the Scots failed get runs on the board. “They got the big hit when they needed it and we did not,” Parrington said.

Macalester did manage to score in the second game, but the team could not contain St. Olaf’s offense and eventually lost the night cap 1-8.

If Macalester is to get a chance to avenge their two early losses, it will have to come in the playoffs. “If we play well every game we’ll have a good chance,” Papalia said, “but if we get swept two or three times, [the playoffs] are not going to happen.”

The Scots will look to get a sweep of their own in their next MIAC doubleheader tomorrow, at Bethel College.