Three nights later, the Trojans beat the Gophers 4-3 in 11 innings to stay alive and force the decisive game in the double-elimination tournament. Siebert came to Rantz, strictly a reliever during his Gophers career, after the loss and said that he would start and have to finish Monday night’s title game.
“I had two outs in the ninth and a 1-0 lead and an NCAA guy came and handed Chief the trophy in the dugout,” Rantz said. “And then I walked my ninth guy of the game, and he came around to score, and we went extra innings.
“You could say I was a happy guy when Cal Rolloff drew a walk that forced in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. Nobody was warming up, so I was going back out there.”
• • •
The 1956 title also came after the Gophers lost a chance to go through the double-elimination tournament undefeated. Arizona stayed alive with a 10-4 victory on a Wednesday night.
“Then, we came out the next night and thumped them, 12-1,” Jerry Thomas said. “Bill Horning, our captain, hit a couple of home runs, and I was throwing well that night.”
Thomas pitched went nine innings on a five-hitter. His assortment of pitches included an excellent changeup.
“We heard a lot here about Frankie Viola and the circle changeup that made him so great for the Twins in 1987,” Thomas said. “Dick Siebert taught me the circle changeup in 1955.”
McCartan nodded and said: “That was the Chief; he was a step ahead of almost everybody in baseball.”