MOORHEAD, Minn. (5/5/09)--It was a day for the seniors and individual achievement for Concordia on Tuesday against Carleton in the final doubleheader of the 2009 season. The Cobbers said goodbye to six seniors and a pair of those set milestone batting records in the process.
As a team, Concordia was unable to hold on to a pair of one-run leads late in both games and fell to the Knights 5-4 and 7-6. The two victories helped Carleton earn their first-ever berth into the MIAC playoffs. They will play regular season champion St. Thomas on Friday in the opening round of the tourney. The Knights finish off the regular season with a 12-8 conference mark and a 21-19 record in all games. The Cobbers end their season by going 8-12 in the MIAC and 15-18 in all games.
Concordia's two top-flight senior hitters accomplished their individual goals heading into the final series of play. Catcher Kyle Johnson needed one home run to tie the MIAC record for HR's in a conference season and first baseman Scott Schumacher needed a hit in both games to extend his hitting streak to 17 games which would be the third longest in school history.
Both players succeeded in their quests in the second game. Johnson hammered a pitch to deep left center field in the fifth inning of the nightcap. That gave the Cobbers a 6-5 lead and appeared to be the game-winning hit until the Knights came up with their seventh-inning heroics. For Johnson it was his 10th conference home run of the year which ties him with five other players who have all connected on 10 HR's against MIAC opponents in a single year. After going 2-for-2 in the opener, Schumacher hit a home run to lead off the fourth inning to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. That is only behind Johnson's 20-game streak in 2008 and Derek Dormanen's 19-game string in 2003.
Both games looked as if the Cobbers would come away with the win until some clutch two-out hitting by the Knights swung the series in their favor. In the opener, Concordia scored all four of their runs in the second inning when they took a 4-1 lead behind a three-run homer off the bat of Adam Johnson. CC starting pitcher Jake Torrison looked as if he would make that hold up but ran into trouble in the sixth inning and the Cobbers nursing a 4-3 lead. Torrison left the game in the sixth after getting two outs but giving up a walk and a hit. He ended the day by pitching 5.2 innings, striking out five and allowing five earned runs. With runners on first and second, Carleton leadoff hitter Russ Fujisawa tomahawked a line drive over the Cobber right fielder and raced all the way to third with a bases clearing triple. That would prove to be the game winner as Carleton starting pitcher Ethan Guevin settled down after the shaky second and retired 12 of the final 14 batters in the game. Guevin shut the door in the seventh by striking out the final CC hitter with a runner on third base.
The second game played out just like the first with Concordia taking a one-run lead into the late innings after putting up a big frame early in the game. This time it was a three-run fourth inning that gave the Cobbers a 5-3 lead. The Knights would tie the game in the top of the fifth with two runs before Kyle Johnson broke the deadlock with his record-tying roundtripper.
Leading 6-5 heading into the seventh, Concordia handed the ball to Nick Petro who was slated to be the CC closer before an arm injury sidelined him early in the season. Petro got the first two batters out in the seventh and it looked like the Concordia win would send Augsburg to the playoffs. That's when fate intervened for the Knights. The No.9 hitter in the order hit an "oops, excuse me" blooper over the infield. That was followed by a walk to Fujisawa. Cameron McDonald-Hyman then became the most popular player on the Carleton campus when he laced a two-out double that hit off the fence in left center to clear the bases and give the Knights the 7-6 lead.
Concordia was unable to mount a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Knights reliever Aaron Troyansky set the side down in order to earn his sixth win of the year and give Carleton their well-deserved berth in the conference tournament.
Besides Johnson and Schumacher, the Cobbers were led at the plate by Tony Emmerich and Nick Lewis who both picked up three hits in the series. With his four hits on the day, Schumacher overtook Johnson for the team batting title. Schumacher finished with a .423 average on the year. It is the fourth highest season average in the past 15 years. Emmerich's three hits also pushed him above Johnson. Playing in his first full year of collegiate baseball, Emmerich finished with a .409 average.