NEW ULM - As rain started to fall during the fifth inning of Martin Luther College's baseball game against Presentation at Mueller Park on Friday afternoon, the umpires decided to make a desperate attempt to complete the game - the first of a scheduled doubleheader.
The two teams withstood the rain right into the seventh inning, but with the score knotted at 1-1 as the inning ended it was finally time to bring out the tarps. When it was determined that the rain wasn't going to let up, the game was suspended, with action to resume at 3 p.m. on Monday at Mueller Park.
"It was a good game and we're going to pick up right where we left off on Monday," MLC head coach Randy Cox said.
Martin Luther College starting pitcher Jacob Ziel winds up to deliver a pitch during the Knights’ game against Presentation Friday at Mueller Park in New Ulm. In the background is Knight’s third baseman Bradley Essig.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Knights starting pitcher Jake Ziel and Presentation starter Sam Heintzman were both on top of their game in the early innings, but the rain caused both pitchers to have some control issues later on as the ball became increasingly more difficult to grip.
Ziel began with two perfect innings before allowing a runner to reach third base in the third inning, but he coaxed a grounder to end the threat.
Ziel allowed only four hits, but one of the hits proved costly as Saints first baseman Heath Giedt launched a solo home run over the left field fence in the fourth inning to give his team a 1-0 lead.
"The pitch that Giedt hit over the fence, that was a high change," Cox said. "He's a good hitter, a senior hitter, and that was the one mistake pitch [Ziel] made all day, and it hurt us."
Ziel allowed only one walk, which came in the seventh as the rain was at its heaviest, and struck out seven to increase his season total to 51 strikeouts in approximately 51 innings pitched. Cox was undecided as to whether Ziel will continue pitching when the game resumes on Monday.
The Knights had five hits in the first five innings and twice advanced runners to second during that span, but were unable to break through for a run against Heintzman (seven innings pitched, six hits, no earned runs, two walks, 11 strikeouts) until the bottom of the seventh.
Joe Blum had a one-out single in the inning to begin an MLC rally, after which pinch hitter Andrew Nemmers walked. Heintzman struck out Brad Essig to get the second out, but then plunked Eric Mielke to load the bases.
With Ziel at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Blum to score from third to tie the game. Ziel walked to again load the bases and Galen Holzhueter worked the count to 3-1 in the next at bat, but Heintzman came back with two straight strikes to strike out Holzhueter looking and bring an end to the inning.
"I thought we had our chance there," Cox said. "Holzhueter had a 3-1 count, took a fastball and then took another fastball right down the middle. In that situation you've got to be ready to hit, Blue's not going to call the game on a walk."
Blum and Aaron Stokke each recorded a pair of hits for the Knights, with Ziel and Joe Schmudlach accounting for the team's other hits.
MLC was originally scheduled to play a doubleheader against Gustavus Adolphus College on Monday, but completing the series against Presentation took priority since it is the final Upper Midwest Athletic Conference match-up for both teams.
The Knights are out of the playoff hunt, but the Saints can still make the playoffs if they sweep the doubleheader on Monday.
"I thought we played a solid game, and I don't want to end the season on this," Cox said. "It would have been nice to eke out a win there at the end with a wild pitch or something, but unfortunately we didn't get it."