Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 2, 2005

Gagnon brothers face off on college diamond

By Aaron Schultz
Sports Editor

With the snow flying, and the wind blowing on a cold Tuesday in April, the Gagnon family of Waverly had a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Mike and Wanda Gagnon, along with several friends and family, made the trek down to Northfield to take in a little Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAC) baseball action.

Now, a couple of proud parents going down to watch their son play some Division III baseball is normally not a huge deal – it happens all the time – but on this day, it was different.

See, Mike and Wanda were in the stands as their youngest son, Luke, and his St. Olaf University team, hosted their eldest son, Andy, and his Hamline University team.

When asked about who they were rooting for, Mike just said that it was discussed, and that they were going to stay neutral.

Both Andy and Luke lobbied to have them pull for their respective teams, but in the end, the parents agreed to throw their full support behind neither squad.

Although mom Wanda was wearing a Hamline sweatshirt at the game, she made sure it was covered up as St. Olaf got the upper hand in both games.

For the first, and presumably the last, time, Luke and Andy were in opposite dugouts during a baseball game.

Both graduates of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School, Andy in 2001 and Luke in 2004, they have continued their baseball careers at Division III Hamline and St. Olaf, respectively.

Luke and Andy were teammates in football and baseball in high school, and are teammates on the Howard Lake Orphans amateur baseball team, but had never competed against each other, except on the playground.

Andy, a senior at Hamline, played in both games, while Luke, a freshman, didn’t enter the action until the final inning of the second game of the doubleheader.

With St. Olaf well in control of game two, Hamline head coach Jason Verdugo put Andy on the hill to pitch the final inning of the game.

With the right-hander on the mound, St. Olaf head coach Matt McDonald went to his bench for a left-handed hitting pinch hitter, who happened to be Luke.

One would think that being the older brother, Andy might make it easy on his little brother and give him a fat pitch to hit. Well, that wasn’t the case.

Knowing that brother Luke is an aggressive hitter, Andy kept the baseball out of the middle of the plate.

On the second pitch of the at-bat, Luke popped up to the third baseman.

As Luke jogged off the field, the brothers exchanged smiles and a few words about the one at-bat that will give Andy lifetime bragging rights.

Although, Luke can always go back to the scoreboard, which read St. Olaf 14, Hamline 3.

Sure, the game was lopsided in favor of Luke’s Oles, and the weather was miserable, but those things will be forgotten in time.

The one thing that won’t be forgotten is that one at-bat, when older brother Andy was able to induce little brother Luke to pop out.

As teammates with the Orphans, where Mike is the manager, there might be a few references back to that one at-bat throughout the summer.

In the end, St. Olaf swept the doubleheader from Hamline, winning game one 7-0, and game two 14-3.

Combined for the day, the Gagnons were 0-for-7 in the two games, one of those rare days when the Gagnons were not spraying the ball all over the park.

Throughout his career at Hamline, Andy has been one of the Pipers’ leaders, and continues to lead the club in a number of offensive categories.

Andy has been starting in right field for the most part this season, but throughout his career, he has seen action at first base and on the mound.

While Andy is having a down year for him, batting .247, he is the only Piper to start, and play, in all 31 games so far this season.

Through 31 games, Andy leads the Pipers in plate appearances (126), sacrifice bunts (5), and walks (21). He also ranks among the team leaders in runs (23), hits (24), RBIs (15), home runs (2), and hit by pitch (3).

The Pipers are 14-17 overall, and are 5-9 in the MIAC.

As for Luke, his freshman season has seen him play in 18 of St. Olaf’s 28 games this year, starting 13 of those.

Luke has seen action at first base, third base, and second base for the Oles, which are 18-11 overall, and 10-4 in the MIAC.

Through Luke’s first 29 games of his collegiate career, he is hitting .260, with 13 hits, nine runs scored, one home run, and five RBIs.

Yep, Luke has a bright future at St. Olaf, with over three years of collegiate baseball left, while Andy will wrap up his very successful collegiate career this May.

Through it all, they remain baseball playing brothers, with Luke’s lifetime career batting average against Andy sitting at .000.

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