Tommies win rematch in Havana 10-1

By Doug Hennes

HAVANA – The score was
similar, but the game itself never was close.

The St. Thomas baseball
team cruised to a 10-1 win over the University of Havana today (Friday),
but the game bore virtually no resemblance to the Tommies’ 7-0 victory
on Wednesday.

In that game, St. Thomas
took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning before scoring six runs.
The Tommies jumped ahead 7-0 in the third inning today and added
single runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth.

The games were just as
dissimilar on defense. Three Tommy pitchers combined for a six-hit
shutout on Wednesday, and while five pitchers gave up only two hits
today, they also issued 11 walks.

Coach Dennis Denning couldn’t
count the key plays on just one hand in Wednesday’s win, but today
he said the game “had absolutely no turning point.”

“Our pitchers struggled,”
he said. “You like to see a game where your defense can shine, where
the pitchers throw strikes and make the other team hit the ball.
That didn’t happen much today.”

As disappointed as he
was in all of the walks two in each of the first three innings
Denning wasn’t surprised. Three players who didn’t get into Wednesday’s
game walked six Havana players today, and starter Bryan Edstrom
(sophomore, Totino Grace) walked four in the first two innings.
Edstrom picked up the win.

“Normally, our walk ratio
is very low,” Denning said. “You wouldn’t see this many walks in
a MIAC game. My rule is that you walk two in a row, you’re out.”

The Tommies’ hitting
and the way they bunched their hits and walks pleased Denning.
“We’re getting sharper,” he said, “and that’s to be expected. This
was just our second game outside. We’re bound to get sharper at
the plate.”

First baseman Paul Rafferty
(senior, Cretin-Derham Hall) had three hits two singles and a
double – and scored twice. He thought today’s game might be more
difficult because Havana would want to make up for the earlier loss.

“They came after us just
as hard today and with the same lineup and their best pitcher,”
Rafferty said. “We got on top early and that made the difference.

“The atmosphere was different
today only a couple of hundred fans (6,000 on Wednesday), and
we were able to relax more. There weren’t as many distractions
no fans pounding on drums during the game. It was more like Minnesota

St. Thomas scored the
first two runs after Jake Mauer (junior, Cretin-Derham Hall) walked
and went to second on a Rafferty single, third on a passed ball
and home on a wild pitch. Rafferty scored on a Scott Christiansen
(junior, Anoka) single.

Edstrom walked two Havana
players in each of the first two innings but no runners got beyond
second. Tom Kelly Jr. (senior, Hill-Murray, and son of Minnesota
Twins manager Tom Kelly) walked two in the third and one in the
fourth but also escaped.

The game ended for all
practical purposes in the third, when St. Thomas batted 10 players.
Rafferty led off with a single. Three more singles, a walk, a hit-batsman
and an error led to five runs and a 7-0 lead.

Havana scored its only
run in the sixth on a triple by Joel Galarrago Ruiz, who scored
on a sacrifice fly. It was the Cubans’ only run of the two-game
series and only one of two hits in today’s game; the other came
with two out in the ninth.

o The Tommies officially
open practice, by NCAA standards, on Tuesday. Their first game is
March 1 against St. Scholastica in the Metrodome, and then they
head to Florida for their annual spring break trip.

o Denning gave baseball
gloves to the Havana ballboys, nine-year-old Salvador and 10-year-old
Renier, before the game. He brought the gloves from the pile he
has collected as a summer camp coach over the years. “And here’s
a ball to play catch with,” he told the youths. “Have fun.”

o Denning and senior captains
Mike Honsa (pitcher, Cretin-Derham Hall) and John Frein (shortstop,
Austin) are scheduled to be on a WCCO Radio sports call-in show
at 8 p.m. Monday.

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