APPLETON, Wis. -- St. Thomas (Minn.) opened the NCAA Division III national finals in resounding style on Friday, knocking off defending national champion Linfield 10-0 behind Eric Veglahn’s sterling two-hit complete game.
The Tommies (38-7) notched their 13th consecutive win, all in May, and advanced to Saturday’s second-round 5:30 p.m. ET game against the winner of Friday afternoon’s Baldwin Wallace vs. Emory game.
Veglahn carried a perfect game into the eighth inning, when he gave up a leadoff single to Jake Wylie. Left-fielder Tim Kuzniar sprinted in hard after the ball but couldn’t quite glove it. Veglahn also gave up a bloop single to right and a walk in the ninth inning.
It was the first shutout of Veglahn’s career, and he recorded 12 strikeouts in the process. The sophomore southpaw from La Crescent, Minnesota, improved to 13-0 in two years, including 9-0 in 2014, and lowered his season ERA to 1.55. He now has 99 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 93 career innings.The Tommies gave Veglahn all the support he needed in the first inning with five runs off Chris Haddeland, Linfield’s two-time Division III pitcher of the year, who came in with an 11-1 record and 0.97 ERA (after going 15-1 and 1.07 last year). They added five runs off two Linfield relievers in the sixth inning.
Haddeland opened with walks to Ben Podobinski and Waylon Benboom, and Linfield first baseman Clayton Truex misplayed Jack Hogan’s hard line drive to allow Podobinski to score. Kuzniar followed with an RBI sacrifice fly, and singles by J.D. Dorgan and Kelvin Stroik made it 4-0. Linfield’s third error of the inning, on a Nick Degen hard liner to first, extended the lead to 5-0.
Haddeland lasted only five innings, striking out five and giving up only three hits but issuing six walks and hitting one batter.
In the sixth inning, the Tommies again sent 10 batters to plate. They jumped on Linfield reliever Joseph Stevick, who gave up four runs on six singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly, and picked up their 10th run of the inning on a wild pitch by Cody Eraullt, the Wildcats’ second pitcher of the inning.
Dorgan drove in three runs with two singles and now has 199 career hits.