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College baseball: St. Scholastica knocked out of NCAA tournament

St. Scholastica baseball coach Corey Kemp has never been the type to say, “Wait till next year.”

But it was hard not to start looking ahead after the Saints fell 6-5 to DePauw University (Ind.) on Friday in the NCAA Division III tournament in Moline, Ill., ending their season.

St. Scholastica certainly didn’t go down easy. The Saints trailed 5-2 before rallying to tie it, only to have the Tigers push a run across in the bottom of the ninth inning.

“It was just a classic game at the NCAA tournament, two good teams battling back and forth,” Kemp said. “They were the last ones standing. Our guys played well. They did a lot of good things, but DePauw had the last at bat and got it done.”

St. Scholastica (30-12) started seven freshmen and sophomores on Friday, including starting pitcher Sam Sorenson, who gave up four runs — only two of them earned — through four innings.

St Scholastica (30-12) opened the scoring with a Brian Minks RBI single in the second inning before DePauw (25-19) scored two runs in each of the next two innings.

“At one point somebody watching that game could have easily said we’re out of it, but our guys fought back to tie it,” Kemp said. “We fully expected to win that game.”

The teams exchanged runs before St. Scholastica scored a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to tie it 5-5, sparked by another RBI single from Minks, who had three hits and two runs to lead the Saints. Austin Colvard and Padraic Getchell added two hits apiece.

Brendon Pashia had two hits to lead DePauw, including the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the ninth after the Tigers loaded the bases against St. Scholastica senior reliever Thomas Rogers of Cloquet. Robbie Stein keyed the rally with a leadoff double.

DePauw had five errors compared to two for the Saints.

“It was a back and forth, back and forth type game, so I don’t think it’s fair to go back and point to any one particular play,” Kemp said. “There were plays all throughout that game that helped determine the outcome. I’m very proud of the way our guys competed, right down to the last out.”

St. Scholastica opened the double-elimination regional tournament with a 7-1 loss to Buena Vista on Wednesday before Thursday’s action was postponed a day because of rain.

The Saints were playing in their 10th straight NCAA tournament.

Besides Rogers, the St. Scholastica’s all-time saves leader, the Saints graduate standout catcher Tyler Henderson and steady second baseman Parker Olson of Duluth.

“It’s hard to say goodbye to three great seniors, but I reminded them that they left this program in very good hands,” Kemp said. “The way they mentored our younger players over the past nine months has been extremely valuable. They’re going to move on, but we’ll have another group of leaders step in. That’s how it works here. They’re young, but they’re talented, and I’m excited to see how much better these young kids can play. I fully expect us to be right back here next year with high expectations to win.”