FORT MYERS, FLA. – St. Thomas took a break Tuesday from NCAA Division III competition to square off against a Minnesota Twins’ rookie team and fell just short in the exhibition game, losing 10-7.
The Tommies rallied from 4-0 and 8-3 deficits and closed to 8-7 in the fifth inning but were shut down over the last four innings on a sunny, mid-70s day at the Twins’ spring training complex in Fort Myers.
“We hit better than I thought we would,” Coach Chris Olean said, pointing out the Tommies were outhit only 13-12. “A couple of our guys (Roy Larson and Chuck Bruchu) got around on fastballs and knocked them out.”
The Twins jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second inning by stringing together a walk, two singles and two doubles in five consecutive at-bats against Ryan Fahey, a junior from LaCrosse Aquinas.
The Twins boosted their lead to 7-2 on a three-run homerun in their half of the third, and St. Thomas responded with a single run in the fourth on Bruchu’s first homer (top photo) of the season. The Tommies put two more runners on base but they were stranded on a Matt Olson strikeout.
St. Thomas scored four runs in the fifth to narrow the gap to 8-7. Tom Wippler singled with one out and Larson followed with his second homerun of the season. Cremisino walked and Bruchu singled, each scoring with two outs on back-to-back singles by Kahle and John Means. But they also were stranded – two of nine Tommies left on base for the game.
The Tommies could manage only two hits over the last four innings. The Twins capped the day’s scoring in the sixth with two unearned runs after two singles, an error and a wild pitch. Mark Dominick, who had relieved Fahey to start the fourth, struck out the side in the sixth.
Olean called Dominik’s four-inning performance “outstanding.” The freshman from Hill-Murray gave up only one earned run, in the fourth, and struck out five Twins. His first strikeout, also in the fourth, came on a beautiful backdoor curve that froze left-handed hitter Daniel Ortiz.
“My curve and changeup were working today,” said Dominik, who struggled on Saturday when he gave up four earned runs against Chicago. “I was throwing my off-speed stuff for strikes, and that helped. Those guys hit fastball pitching pretty far, so you have to mix it up.”
Larson was perfect at the plate for the second straight day and has reached base nine straight times. He had three hits, two walks and two RBI in Monday’s 8-1 win over Edgewood, and he followed up against the Twins with the two-run homer, a double and single, and was hit by a pitch.
The Tommies (11-1) have two games remaining on their spring break trip, both in Auburndale. They play Edgewood on Wednesday, with ace Matt Schuld (2-0) taking the mound, and finish on Thursday against SUNY-New York.
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