By Matthew Davis
Chanhassen looked the part of two-time defending state champions early against St. Michael but will need to wait out the weekend to finish its state tournament opener.
Led by second baseman Aaron Kloeppner’s 3-3 batting with three RBI, the Redbirds built a 6-0 lead through five innings. St. Michael chipped away with a couple runs in the top of the sixth inning before lightning halted the game. Play will resume 8 p.m. Sunday.
Left fielder Aaron Pfaff jolted the Redbirds lineup with an RBI single for the first of two runs in the second inning. Jackson Goplen and Kloeppner scored runs.
First baseman Zach Hoffmann hit a sac fly for a 3-0 Redbirds lead in the third inning. Kloeppner made it 4-0 with an RBI double to center field before the first lightning delay. After the 50-minute wait, the Redbirds looked poised to put away the Saints when play resumed. Kloeppner put the Redbirds up 6-0 on a two-run double in the fifth inning.
St. Michael chipped away just in time for the second storm’s arrival after mustering one hit through five innings. Right fielder Evan Saunders put two runners in scoring position during the sixth inning with a center field double. Center fielder Travis Brown and second baseman Boston Merila sent the runners home with RBI singles.
Chanhassen pitcher John Straka kept the Saints in check for much of the night with seven strikeouts. Marcus Krupke struck out five for the Saints five innings before lightning put the game on pause until Sunday.