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SJU kicks off the 2023 season with three games against Luther this weekend in Kansas

Links to history

Saint John baseball opens its 2023 season with three games on neutral field against Luther (Iowa) this Saturday and Sunday, February 25-26, on the campus of Saint Mary’s University in Leavenworth, Kan. The two teams will play a doubleheader at 1:00 pm on Saturday, followed by a single nine-inning game at noon on Sunday.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John baseball finished second to the MIAC with a 15-5 record (24-17 overall) and made its 12th consecutive appearance in the MIAC Tournament in 2022.

SJU led the conference with six All-MIAC honorees this past spring, with four returning in 2023: senior second baseman Owen Dauk (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview), senior first baseman Max Nyrop (Alameda, Calif.), senior pitcher Casey Trapp (Blaine, Minn./Centennial) and junior center fielder Jordan Amundson (Eden Prairie, Minn.).

Here’s a look at the 2023 Johnnys:

Season no. 46 The 2023 season will be Coach Jerry Haugen’s 46th in charge of the Johnnie baseball program. Haugen ’76 compiled a career record of 912-688-5 (.570), including a mark of 229-105 (.686) in his last nine seasons. He got his 900th career win in Game 1 of the Johnnies’ doubleheader against Hamline on April 13 in Collegeville.

Home Run Record – Part 2 The SJU program record for home runs (39) set in 2021 only lasted one season as the Johnnies hit 51 this past spring. Both seasons consisted of 41 games. Seven Johnnys have hit five homers or more in 2022, and SJU returns 32 of 51 this season.

Trapped at the Plate Trapp set a single-season strikeout record with 73, surpassing the previous mark of 71 set by Andy Schneider ’00 in 1998, and went on to a 5-1 record with a 3.63 ERA and an opposing batting average of .234 in a team-best 74.1 innings pitched last season. He led the MIAC in innings pitched (42.1) and was second in strikeouts (42) in nine conference appearances (six starts). His only loss was a one-at complete game on April 19 at St. Scholastica. Trapp enters his senior season seventh in program history with 139 strikeouts, 62 behind Joel Swenson’s 99-owned program record of 201.

Others on the Mound In addition to Trapp, SJU is returning a pair of young right-handed pitchers back into the rotation in Kody Dalen (Carver, Minn./Chanhassen) and Griffin Larson (Edina, Minn.). Dalen made nine starts (10 appearances) and went 2-1 with a 4.47 ERA in 52.1 innings. He finished second on the team with 50 strikeouts. Larson, meanwhile, made 14 appearances, with three starts, and struck out 46 batters in 33 innings. Opponents batted just .218 against him.

Nyrop in record books The All-MIAC honor was the second in a row for Nyrop, who earned All-Region and All-America honors in 2021. He finished the 2022 season on a 20-game hitting streak (24 games in base streak) and led the team in hits (55), batting .383 (18-for-47) with runners in scoring position and .467 (7-for-15) in three MIAC Tournament games. Nyrop hit base at safety in all 20 MIAC games and tied for the conference lead in doubles (8), while finishing third in RBI (26) in the league. He enters his senior season fourth in program history in home runs (18), seven away from Ethan Roe’s record of ’22, and tied for 10th in RBI (90), 20 RBI behind Max Jackson’s record of ’22 19.

Approaching 100 career hits Nyrop became the 34th Johnnie to reach 100 career hits this past April and is set to be joined by four teammates this season. Dauk is 23 on the road with 77 in his career, followed by junior outfielder Rodney Erickson (St. Paul, Minn./Woodbury) with 73, junior outfielder Jack Schleper (Shakopee, Minn.) with 71 and junior third baseman Joe Becker (New Prague, Minn.) with 65.

Other returning Infield starters SJU returns a pair of starting infielders, Becker and Dauk, who each hit five homers last season. Dauk started all 41 games at second base and led the Johnnies in on-base percentage (.497), thanks to a .354 batting average with 23 walks and was hit from the field 15 times, and tied with Soren Roe ’22 for the team leader in runs scored (37). He posted a team-best 25-game on-base streak on the season and batted .459 (28 for 61) with the bases empty. Dauk became SJU’s all-time leader with 35 last season.

Becker also started all 41 games, at third base, and batted .303 with 17 extra-base hits, 34 runs scored and 32 RBI last season.

At catcher, the Johnnies must replace a four-year starter in Ethan Roe, who graduated from SJU and is now using an extra year of NCAA-granted eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a Division I graduate student East Tennessee State. The leading candidates are Elders Matt Herold (North Oaks, Minn./Mounds View) and Zach Selchow (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview). Herold played in five games with three starts last season, while Selchow started 16: seven at catcher, seven at first base and two more as the team’s designated hitter.

Three Transfers Three transfers are expected to contribute immediately to SJU in 2023. Designated hitter/junior first baseman Owen Best (Aurora, Colo./Regis Jesuit) hit .262 (17-for-65) with five doubles, one triple and 11 RBI in 31 games (23 starts) as a freshman at St. Thomas in 2021. Sophomore infielder Jackson Peter (Elrosa, Minn./Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa) hit .392 (47 for 120) with five home runs, six doubles , 32 RBI and 26 runs scored for St. Cloud Technical and Community College as the Cyclones went 26-13 and reached the NJCAA World Series this past spring. Senior right-hander Wyatt Rudolf (Carver, Minn./Chanhassen) had 34 goals in 38.1 innings (22 starts, two starts) over two seasons at Division II Concordia-St. Paul.

Youngsters in outfield Three youngsters saw intense outfield action last season. Amundson played in all 41 games (35 starts) and finished second on the team in triples (3) and homers (8) in his first season as a Johnnie. He started all 20 MIAC games in center field and finished third in the conference in slugging percentage (.750) and fourth in home runs (7), while leading the team in stolen bases (6) and finished second in batting (. 375) in the league.

Two others, Erickson and Schleper, suffered a bit of a second slump statistically this past spring compared to their freshman seasons in 2021. Erickson played in 34 games (30 starts) and batted .226 with 20 runs scored and 10 RBI . He posted a .322 batting average with 36 runs and 24 RBI in 2021. Schleper, meanwhile, hit five home runs and eight doubles, but batted .210 a year after his .324 average as a freshman.

2023 Non-Conference Schedule The Johnnies’ 40-game schedule includes 30 non-conference contests comprised of 15 different opponents. The 15 teams have combined for a record of 344-271-1 (.559) in 2022 and includes three that have made the NCAA Tournament: Baldwin Wallace (37-13), Crown (30-15), and Lebanon Valley (30 -16). Baldwin Wallace advanced to the Division III World Series.

Following this weekend’s games against Luther in Kansas, SJU travels to Florida for seven games — three in Port Charlotte and four in Ft. Myers — over six days. The Johnnys visit Northwestern March 14 for a doubleheader in Roseville before venturing to Tucson, Arizona for six games over three days March 18-20. SJU hosts Crown for its home opener on March 25 and finishes the non-conference roster, following the MIAC regular season, on May 8 at home against Minnesota-Morris.

MIAC Schedule (Home) The Johnnies open MIAC play April 1 against Concordia in Moorhead and are scheduled to host doubleheaders against the following MIAC opponents:

-Santa Maria (Tuesday 4 April) -St. Olaf (Saturday 15th April) -Bethel (Wednesday 26th April) -Gustavus Adolphus for Senior Day (Saturday 29th April) -St. Scholastica (Tuesday 2 May)

For the fourth time in facility history (2016, 2017, 2021), the MIAC Double-Elimination Tournament will be held at Collegeville’s Becker Park. The four-team tournament is scheduled for May 11-13.

NORWAY AT A GLANCE: Luther finished the 2022 season with a 22-20 (13-11 ARC) record and was chosen to finish third in the American Rivers Conference (ARC) when his preseason poll was announced on February 15. Ryan Manternach, senior infielder Cullen Stamp, and senior first baseman Joshua Matanich. Manternach was named to the first team All-ARC a year ago after leading the team with a 2.77 ERA, a 4-4 record (13 starts, 12 starts), and 49 strikeouts in 68.1 innings. Stamp was an honorable mention All-ARC and hit .295 with eight doubles, two triples, two home runs, 13 RBI and 38 runs scored. Stamp also led the team with 20 perfect stolen bases on 20 attempts. Matanich led the Norwegians last season with a .353 batting average. He had 36 RBI and 55 hits, including 12 doubles and five homers.

HISTORY OF THE SERIES: The Johnnys are 7-3 in 10 known meetings with the Norwegians, dating back to May 27, 1916; a 2-1 win for SJU in Collegeville. The two teams last met in 2019, when the Johnnys won two of three games March 23-24, 2019 in Collegeville: V, 6-4; L, 7-12; and V, 2-1.

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