MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Sophomore Nick Lombardi drove in four runs with two doubles and a home run while senior Cole Sulser tossed three-hit ball over six scoreless innings as Dartmouth (1-0) defeated Minnesota (5-4) in the Dairy Queen Classic at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on Friday evening in the season opener for the Big Green. Every Big Green player in the starting lineup had at least one hit and one run in the relentless 17-hit attack.
The bottom three hitters in the Dartmouth order — Lombardi, sophomore catcher Matt MacDowell and freshman center fielder Nick Ruppert — each had two doubles while Ruppert joined Lombardi with three hits on the night. Junior Dustin Selzer, and sophomores Thomas Roulis and Matt Parisi each had two singles as well.
Sulser (1-0), a first-team All-Ivy pitcher in 2011, was making his first appearance on the mound for the Big Green since undergoing Tommy John surgery about 21 months ago and dominated the Gopher lineup. He faced the minimum through five innings, yielding just a leadoff walk to start the game (gunned down by MacDowell trying to steal second) and a single in the fifth that was erased on an unassisted double play by Selzer at first. The right-hander walked just the one batter and struck out four, throwing an efficient 72 pitches in his six innings of work.
|Cole Sulser made a triumphant return to the mound, hurling three-hit ball over six scoreless innings to earn the win.|
“Our guys played really good baseball and competed in our at-bats,” said Dartmouth head coach Bob Whalen after the game. “But I am happiest about Cole throwing six dominant innings after not throwing for nearly two years. He looked just like the pitcher he was before he got hurt, and that’s a testament to the hard work he has put in to get back on the mound.”
Lombardi put Dartmouth on the board first when he yanked the first pitch he saw down the left-field line and over the fence for a solo home run with one out in the second. The score remained 1-0 through four innings, though Minnesota southpaw Tom Windle (1-1) — a potential first-round pick in the MLB Draft this June — had to work out of trouble as the Big Green stranded five runners.
In the fifth, the floodgates opened as the Big Green bats battered Windle and knocked him from the game. Roulis opened the inning with a single to center and took third when the Gopher first baseman failed to handle a grounder for a two-base error. A wild pitch allowed Roulis to cross the plate, and Windle’s wildness continued as he walked senior Ennis Coble to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Selzer followed with an RBI single through the hole between short and third, and another single by junior Jeff Keller loaded the bases.
Windle got the first out on a deep fly ball off the bat of freshman Joe Purritano to plate Coble and send Selzer to third. That would be all for the Gopher hurler with Lombardi striding to the plate, but the third-sacker greeted reliever Ty McDevitt by lacing a 2-2 pitch into the gap in left-center for a two-run double for a 6-0 lead.
After Sulser escaped a one-out, two-on jam in the sixth, Dartmouth head coach Bob Whalen summoned freshman Dustin Robinson from the bullpen for the seventh stanza. He struck out the first batter he faced, but then surrendered four straight singles before issuing a walk and leaving the bases loaded with the Big Green ahead, 6-2. Sophomore Thomas Olson got the final two outs with just one more run scoring, preserving the lead.
Dartmouth got one of those runs back in the eighth when Ruppert stroked a two-out double and scampered home on a Roulis single off of another reliever, Kevn Kray.
In the ninth, the Big Green put together another two-out rally, beginning with Purritano’s first collegiate hit. Lombardi, MacDowell and Ruppert then hit back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles to close out the scoring.
Olson picked up the seventh save of his career, yielding just one hit over 2.2 innings while whiffing one.
J.T. Canakes had three of Minnesota’s eight hits while scoring a run and driving in another, and Connor Schaefbauer had the lone Gopher extra-base hit with a double.
Windle’s final line included six runs allowed, five earned, on nine hits and two walks over 4.1 innings while fanning four. He entered the game having not surrendered a run in either of his first two starts this season.
Dartmouth will play Northern Illinois in its second game of the Dairy Queen Classic. First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for noon local time.