116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A baseball program that has qualified for the postseason 21 straight seasons finally won it all Tuesday afternoon. And did so convincingly.
The Sea Gulls won all five games on the big stage, an impressive champion, for sure. They won Monday’s Game 1 here, 6-1.
“It was my goal to win a national championship when I came here,” said Salisbury first baseman Sky Rahill, who had three hits Tuesday. “This year wasn’t about just the guys on this team. It was about years past, guys who led the way.”
Salisbury head coach Troy Brohawn pitched in the World Series for the 2001 champion Arizona Diamondbacks. This was his seventh season leading the Sea Gulls, and his team finished 34-4, winning 20 of their final 21 games.
The only loss came in 23 innings to Southern Virginia in early May. Salisbury was one of D-III’s top offensive teams and had the pitching and defense to go with it.
“We have a really close-knit group of guys,” Brohawn said. “We got some timely hitting when we needed it, got some big outs when we needed (them). I’ve been around this game a long, long time, and to do this, to win a championship, do something significant like this, you’ve got to have a little luck with you, along with some great, great players. This team really loves each other … I think the closeness of this group has a lot to do with this.”
Salisbury went with freshman Benji Theilhamer on the mound, and he was aces in his very first college start, pitching an out into the fifth inning and giving up just a run. He had thrown less than 10 innings all season coming into this tournament.
“The win yesterday definitely took a lot of pressure off today,” he said. “All I was thinking about was just going out and giving everything I have. Throwing strikes, and that’s about it.”
Corey Burton took over, also throwing 4 1/3 very good innings. All-American Clayton Dwyer got the last out on a fly to the warning track in left field with the bases loaded.
He got the save by throwing four innings Monday, after starting Salisbury’s second game of this tournament Saturday. Salisbury scored three runs in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead, with Kavi Caster’s two-out, two-run single the big hit.
St. Thomas finished its final D-III season with a 37-9 record. The school is making the significant jump to Division I in all sports beginning this school year.
“We’ll take a breath, reconvene,” Coach Chris Olean said. “A lot of it is roster management, having some exit meetings, seeing where guys are at and kind of getting on the same page with the team and what we need to do moving forward. We’ve been really purposeful at not looking ahead. So I think what I want to do at this point is let the guys enjoy their last day together here, have a little bit of time to decompress, then kind of regroup and get back together and figure out how we’re going to get ready for Division I.”
“It’s going to be a relatively easy transition, I think, going to D-I,” said St. Thomas starting pitcher Andrew Tri, a fifth-year senior. “I think this team could compete right now, honestly. The guys we had, we could compete with the D-Is, the bottom D-Is and the middle D-Is. We’re going to get guys coming in here that will help us compete with the top D-Is.”
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