By Mike Marsnik
Chanhassen 2, Miesville 1
A bit of well-executed “small ball” made the difference for the defending champion Chanhassen Red Birds in their 2-1 win over the Miesville Mudhens Sunday afternoon at The Joe in Shakopee. The win put the Red Birds in the cat bird’s seat in the 2020 Class B State Tournament. They will face the Moorhead Brewers, the other team still in the winners bracket.
With the score knotted at 1 in the bottom of the eighth, Deryk Smith led off the inning with a hit deep into the hole, which Mudhens shortstop Max Gamm gloved but was unable to do anything with. Ryan Diers dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving Smith to second. Aaron Pfaff’s ground out to second moved Smith to third. Brandon Arnold slapped a single to left field, plating Smith with what would turn out to be the game-winning run and ended Deryk Marks’ excellent stint on the mound. Chris Olean replaced Marks and got the final out of the inning, inducing a groundout off the bat of Michael Jurgella.
Red Bird catcher Ben Livorsi’s second-inning home run was the only run in the game until the top of the seventh. With one out, Mudhen left fielder Austin LaDoux drew a full-count walk off of Red Birds starter Thomas Thompson and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Matt VanderBosch then singled up the middle to drive in the tying run.
Thompson allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out three to pick up the W. Chris Choles allowed one hit in two innings of relief with two strikeouts to earn the save.
Arnold had a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate as well as the game-winning RBI.
Moorhead 6, Cold Spring 5 (10 innings)
The Cold Spring Springers held a 5-3 over the Moorhead Brewers lead as they entered the bottom of the ninth Sunday afternoon at Joe Schlepper Stadium in Shakopee. Springers reliever Justin Thompson had just cruised through three scoreless innings and was looking strong. Things looked good for the Springers … but it was not to be.
Nick Salentine hit a 2-2 pitch from Thompson up the middle to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Thompson caught Matt Oye looking for the first out, then issued a four-pitch walk to Brewers leadoff hitter Brandt Kolpak. That brought a visit by the Cold Spring manager to the mound. Thompson remained in the game. He walked Jayse McLean to load the bases. He struck out Brewers designated hitter Denver Blinn (who had hit three consecutive fly balls to center field) on a swinging strikeout for the second out, leaving his team one out from victory. He threw a first pitch strike to the next hitter, Joe Hallock. The Brewers cleanup hitter hit Thompson’s next offering right back at him, glancing off his trailing foot. It made its way to the outfield as Salentine and Kolpak raced home, tying the score at five runs apiece.
The Springers put two aboard with two outs in the top of the 10th as Andrew Bulson drew a walk and Drew VanLoy was hit by a pitch from Brewers fireman Cole Christensen. Christensen put out the fire, fanning Brad Olson on three pitches.
In the bottom of the tenth Mike Peschel hit the first pitch from Sam Hanson to Cold Spring shortstop Jordan Barth, who fielded it deep in the hole but had no play. Spencer Flaten entered the game as a pinch runner for Peschel. A four-pitch walk to Chandler Ibach put runners at first and second. Salentine advanced them both with a nifty sacrifice bunt. With one out and the Cold Spring infield playing in, Matt Oye hit a 1-1 pitch between first and second base into right field and the celebration was on as Flaten crossed the plate.
Christensen earned the win on 5-⅓ innings of scoreless relief. He gave up five hits, walked one, hit one, and whiffed three. Starter Bryce Kingsley had allowed only one run on five hits through the first four frames. A two-out Brewer error in the fifth meant that only two of the five runs he surrendered were earned.
Hallock went 2-for-3 with a run scored and three driven in. McLean also went 2-for-3 and scored a run. His double into the right field corner was the opening shot of a three-run fourth for the Brewers, who banged out a dozen hits as a team. Peschel had a 3-for-5 afternoon, including an RBI double.
Springers leadoff hitter Brian Hansen had four singles in six at-bats. He was one of two Cold Spring runners tagged out at the plate in the game’s first half-inning. Jordan Barth, right behind him, was the other. He went 3-for-6.
The Springers will face the Miesville Mudhens at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5. The loser of that game will be eliminated. The winner will play the loser of the game between Chanhassen and Moorhead, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4. The state championship will be decided on Sunday Sept. 6 at 1 p.m. (or at 4 p.m. if necessary).