By Nick Gerhardt

ScoreMonster Contributor

Bo McClintock isn’t afraid of taking a gamble.

Not when he packed up his things to move to Minnesota to be with his girlfriend and certainly not Sunday night with a chance to deliver a state title to Rochester. 

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th inning and the Royals trailing 3-2 with nobody out, Nick Pearson hit a grounder to short against Champlin Park. LoGators shortstop Bryce Nelson went home with the throw but it sailed past catcher Matt Marek and ricocheted off the back stop to allow Logan Milene to score from third and McClintock to score from second after reliever Jerry Gooley couldn’t collect Marek’s throw to the plate. 

McClintock, who went 2-for-5, blew through a stop sign from third base coach Brad Pfeffer and his head-first slide gave the Royals a 4-3 victory and their first Class B state title since 2006. Rochester became the first team not from Chanhassen or Miesville to win the title in six years.

McClintock thought through his decision ahead of time.

“He’s going to have to catch it, turn around and make a good throw,” he said. “He’s going to have to catch it and then tag me. Worst case scenario, say I get thrown out, there’s still another guy at third with one out. It was just a good time for me to take it and make a play. It worked out for us.”

McClintock’s worked out pretty well for the Royals since joining the team this season. He’s hit No. 4 in the lineup and added some pop to a lineup that needed some in the state tournament, especially following a 2-1 loss to Chanhassen in last year’s state tournament. 

McClintock made his way to Rochester after meeting his girlfriend Danielle in Las Vegas when she asked him about gambling.

“I said you should go play roulette,” he said. “It’s easy and it’s your best odds of winning. She walked away and came back 20 minutes later and she’s like I won $10 and I was like cool. We just kind of started a conversation.”

They traveled back and forth to see each other after that while McClintock played pro ball for the Boise Hawks, an independent team in a league designated as an MLB Partner League, but decided he’d hang up his spikes and turn to coaching. He serves as an assistant baseball coach at Rochester Technical and Community College and met Royals ace Matt Meyer at The Yard Sports Training Facility. Meyer recruited him to play for Rochester eventually, though McClintock passed on Meyer’s initial offer.

McClintock and Meyer are both happy he reconsidered because together they shared a special moment Sunday celebrating the first opportunity they’ve gotten to play in a championship game. 

“I played nine years professionally, I played in college and I’ve never been on the field for a championship game,” Meyer said.

Meyer, who took home the Fred Roufs MVP award for the tournament, came on in the seventh inning with one out and two runners on. Reid Conlee reached on an infield single to load the bases before Meyer got a called third strike and induced a grounder to second to end the inning. Meyer, who threw a complete game Friday in a 3-0 win over Champlin Park, went 4 2/3 innings and allowed two unearned runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five. Meyer finished the tournament 4-0 with a 0.57 ERA in 31 2/3 innings. He allowed 23 hits, four runs, two earned and allowed just one walk. The 37-year-old struck out 37 hitters and also took home the Mike Davison Award for the tournament’s most outstanding pitcher. 

Meyer entered with the game tied 1-1. Champlin Park jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Ethan Mocchi scored from first on Jeff Heuer’s double. The Royals tied it 1-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning after two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a ground out scored Pearson.

Rochester took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh after Dan Lyons got hit by a pitch. Alex Hoelts walked and a sacrifice bunt moved both into scoring position for Mike Michalak, who came through with a sacrifice fly to left to score Nolan Jurgenson, who came on to run for Lyons.

With Meyer on the mound it looked like the Royals had the game locked up but the LoGators scratched across the game-tying run in the top of the ninth inning. No. 9-hitter Ryan Bruns reached on an error and Aaron Urlaub came in to run for him. After Sam Riola walked, Meyer struck out the next two batters before Heuer reached on an infield single to score Urlaub and tie the game 2-2. 

Champlin Park, which lost to Miesville 5-4 on a walk-off last season in a game to go to the title game, got a run across in the top of the 12th inning when Bryce Nelson reached on a fielder’s choice after Conlee reached on an error. Marek singled through the right side of the infield and Nelson scored on an errant throw to third base to put the LoGators up 3-2 at the time.

Milene also finished 2-for-5 as the only other Rochester hitter with two hits.

Mocchi finished 3-for-6 while Marek and Conlee had two hits for Champlin Park in the loss.

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