Class A Roundup: St. Louis Park tops Baseball 365 in pitchers’ duel, Minnetonka blasts into Sunday

By Michael Hughes

ScoreMonster Contributor

news@mnbaseball.org

Andy Davis didn’t finish off a complete game shutout Saturday night in St. Anthony, so he’ll just have to settle for a dominant performance to move St. Louis Park one win away from a Class A state championship.

Davis struck out 10 batters across nine innings in a 2-1 victory against Baseball 365, with the lone blemish a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning by CJ Smith. Only twice, did Baseball 365 advance a runner into scoring position.

First, with Michael Thomas’ double in the third inning and second when Nate Behlen and Jake Porter both singled in the fourth. Davis slithered out of both situations unscathed.

For most of the night, Baseball 365 starting pitcher Noah Danner matched Davis pitch for pitch.  That lasted until the seventh inning, when Adam Seaman connected with a two-out single.

After Seaman was replaced with a pinch runner, Joe Pierce laced a double down the left field line to drive in the first run of the game and advanced to third on the throw home. A few pitches later, Pierce scampered home on a wild pitch to provide St. Louis Park a late 2-0 lead.

That ended up providing Danner with a hard-luck loss, as the right-hander tossed eight solid innings while allowing only four hits and striking out four batters.

Now, Baseball 365 will have to turn around and battle the Minnetonka Millers at noon Sunday back in St. Anthony. Minnetonka beat the Minneapolis Cobras and Air Freight Unlimited on Saturday with a combined 22 runs Saturday to advance to Sunday.

The winner of that first game Sunday advances to the championship at 3 p.m. against St. Louis Park. If St. Louis Park loses that game, a winner-take-all championship is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in St. Anthony.

Minnetonka Millers 11, Minneapolis Cobras 6

A slew of hot bats throughout Saturday afternoon, plus two solid starting pitching performances allowed the Minnetonka Millers to continue their fight through the loser’s bracket and survive until Sunday.

Following an 11-3 win against Air Freight Unlimited earlier in the day, Minnetonka turned around and topped the Minneapolis Cobras 11-6. It will play the loser of Saturday night’s Baseball 365 vs. St. Louis Park matchup at noon Sunday in St. Anthony.

In the second game, it was a pair of home runs from Jack Hanson, a home run from Mike Davis, plus four consecutive hits to start the game from Blaine Rutledge, Davis, Joe Shallenberger and Hanson that forced the Cobras to continuously go to their bullpen in search for answers on the mound.

Minneapolis cycled through three pitchers in the first five innings before returning to Mitch Waletzki, who started the first game of the day for Minneapolis. Besides Waletzki, Bennett Johnson, Derek Mason and AJ Sturnieks all pitched for the Cobras.

Minnetonka faced no such dilemma in its second game, as Don Erdall allowed a pair of runs in the first, but then surrendered only a solo home run to Morgan Holmes through the end of the seventh inning innings. He ran out of gas in the eighth inning, when Brandon Schmahl jumped on a pitch over the heart of the plate and deposited it beyond the wall in right center field for a three-run homer to cut the Minnetonka lead to 9-6.

The Millers added two more runs in the top of the ninth, however, to stretch their lead to 11-6 and provide a more comfortable ninth inning for Paul Voelker to finish off the four-out save.

Erdall’s finished with 7 2/3 innings pitched, during which he allowed 10 hits, six runs and struck out seven batters.

Outside of the eighth inning, the biggest scoring threat for Minneapolis came in the bottom of the first. After Jordan Kozicky drove in Mason Reinhart with an RBI single and Sean Borman was forced home by Ryan McGie’s bases-loaded walk, Erdall induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and limit the damage to two runs.

Minnetonka Millers 11, Air Freight Unlimited 3

A combination of timely hitting from the Minnetonka Millers and poorly timed defensive miscues from Air Freight Unlimited created a game-defining top of the fourth inning Saturday afternoon.

The Millers piled up six runs in that frame to power an 11-3 win, thanks to a pair of Air Freight Unlimited errors and a three-run home run from Blaine Rutledge to break the game open.

That was enough room for Minnetonka starting pitcher Sam Schlecht to operate, who didn’t allow a hit until a solo home run from Tommy Cummings in the bottom of the fifth. Nate Pearce added a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth, but that was all Air Freight Unlimited could manage against the rising St. Thomas sophomore.

The right-hander fired a complete game while allowing only six hits and two walks. He struck out seven batters.

Air Freight Unlimited provided a scare while trailing 8-3 in the bottom of the seventh, when Tavier Simmons, Avery Lehman and Jack Cook provided back-to-back-to-back two-out singles to load the bases. Schlecht was then able to induce a Chandler Schaefbauer groundout to shortstop to end the threat.

That was followed in the top of the eighth by back-to-back-back two-out solo home runs by Rutledge, Mike Davis ad Joe Shallenberger.

Rutledge also scored the first run of the game after he reached on a dropped third strike to open the top of the first. He later stole third base, before scoring on Jack Hanson’s deep fly ball to center. Hanson added a pair of singles and scored a pair of runs. Joel Thimsen also finished with a pair of hits, including an RBI double, and scored a run.

Starting pitcher Graham Laubscher pitched well for Air Freight Unlimited, as the left-hander tossed seven innings, allowed six hits, walked three and struck out four. Only two of the eight runs scored against him were earned.

Minnetonka turns around immediately to take on the Minneapolis Cobras in an elimination game Saturday afternoon. Minneapolis topped the St. Anthony Hogs 14-8 in the first game of the day Saturday.

Minneapolis Cobras 14, St. Anthony Hogs 8

An eight-run explosion in the second inning was enough to propel the Minneapolis Cobras past the St. Anthony Hogs on Saturday morning in an elimination game of the Class A state tournament in St. Anthony.

Those eight runs ended up being the difference in a 14-8 victory. Minneapolis scored first in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead, but St. Anthony quickly jumped in front 3-1 in the top of the second inning with a three-run, two-out double from Bennett Wiggins to score Andrew Johnson, Jordan Wiggins and Kris Long.

That lead was short lived, however, with the Cobras scoring eight times in the bottom of the second to take a 9-3 lead.

The list of offensive standouts was long for Minneapolis, which received at least one run scored from every spot in the lineup Saturday.

Brandon Schmahl reached base five times out of the leadoff spot and scored three times, Sean Borman collected three hits including a two-run home run and Mason Reinhart singled three times in addition to working a walk.

In total, Minneapolis finished with 15 hits and worked six walks, in addition to being hit by three pitches.

The Cobras started Mitch Waletzki on the mound, where the right-hander fired four innings before departing with a 13-4 lead. He struck out four batters while allowing six hits and four runs. Isaac Harrill pitched two innings of relief while surrendering three runs, and Danny Smith fired the final three innings while giving up one run.

St. Anthony put up a decent fight to try and stay alive after falling in that 13-4 hole after four innings.

Bennett Wiggins finished with three hits and a walk, with two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored. Noah Bluth launched a two-run homer, doubled and walked, Jeff Ostrom collected three hits, and Kris Long singled twice and scored a pair of runs.

On the mound, Matt Tappe started for the Hogs and allowed nine runs (eight earned) while not recording an out in the second inning.

He was relieved by Sullivan Jahnke, who notched 2 2/3 innings of relief while surrendering four runs and striking out five. Alex Sommer then the final 4 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. Sommer gave up only one unearned run and struck out a pair of batters.

Minneapolis advances to play again later Saturday against the winner of the Minnetonka Miller and Air Freight Unlimited. That game is scheduled for 4 p.m., but is likely to start later due to the length of the Minneapolis and St. Anthony matchup to start the day.

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