Former Raiders headed back to NCAA tournament

A pair of Roseville Area High School graduates will have their college baseball seasons extended by at least a few more days. Ben Podobinski and Austin Colvard are set to play in the NCAA Division III tournament starting this week.

Podobinski and Colvard are starting outfielders for the University of St. Thomas and the College of St. Scholastica baseball teams, respectively. Both teams won their respective conference tournaments last weekend to clinch automatic berths into the national tournament.

Podobinski, a senior, and the Tommies claimed the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship with a 3-1 victory over Bethel on Sunday. It is the 10th title for St. Thomas (33-7) in the 15-year history of the tournament.

This will be Podobinski’s third trip to the NCAA tournament in three seasons at St. Thomas. He and his St. Thomas teammates advanced to the Division III College World Series in 2012 and finished third. Last year, the Tommies qualified for the tournament but did not advance past the regional.

In starting all 40 games this season, Podobinski batted .425 and had a slugging percentage of .614. He drove in 24 runs, scored a team-high 54 runs and also led the team in hits (65), triples (9) and stolen bases (26) and. He made one error in 89 chances while patrolling center field for the Tommies.

Colvard, a sophomore, and the Saints won the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference tournament crown with a 14-4 victory over Northwestern on Saturday. The championship is the 17th in a row for St. Scholastica (30-10), which is located in Duluth.

Colvard went 2-for-5 with two runs batted in and two runs scored in the title game. That performance helped the Saints rally from an early 4-0 deficit. Northwestern scored four runs in the top of the first inning and could have added to that total in the second inning if not for a diving two-out catch by Colvard in left field.

For Colvard, this week’s trip to the regionals will be the second in as many seasons at St. Scholastica. In 2013, Colvard and the Saints went 2-2 in the regional held in Whitewater, Wisc. Among the teams St. Scholastica beat in that regional was St. Thomas.

Colvard missed the first month of the season and didn’t see his first action until April 5. Through Saturday, he has appeared in 20 games and started 19 of those. The Saints are undefeated in the games that Colvard has started.
Colvard is batting .338 with 32 runs scored and 14 driven in. He has 25 hits and is a perfect 25 of 25 in stolen base attempts.

The NCAA tournament starts Wednesday at different sites. St. Thomas and St. Scholastica are once again slotted into the same regional, this year in Moline, Ill. St. Thomas is the No. 2 seed while St. Scholastica is seeded fourth.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

 

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