Class A (Sunday): St. Louis Park breezes past Baseball 365 to claim 4th state championship

By Michael Hughes

ScoreMonster Contributor

news@mnbaseball.org

*Photos via Michael Mingo/Twin Cities Phtography

Throughout the Class A state tournament, St. Louis Park displayed a level of pitching and timely hitting that went unmatched by the rest of the field.

That trend continued in Sunday afternoon’s championship game in St. Anthony, where St. Louis Park dismantled Baseball 365 8-0.

In five state tournament games, St. Louis Park allowed only one run, a solo shot by Baseball 365’s CJ Smith in Saturday night’s 2-1 victory that placed it in Sunday’s championship. The eight runs scored Sunday was the team’s second most of the tournament, trailing only a second-round 10-0 victory against Stockmen’s Irish.

Sunday, the dominant pitching performance was provided by Chris Odegaard. The right-hander surrendered only three hits and two walks while striking out two batters. Fittingly, Odegaard was named Pitcher of the Tournament, while his rotation-mate Andy Davis was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Davis fired a complete game in Saturday night’s win against Baseball 365.

Outside of the top of the first Sunday, Odegaard was also given the luxury of pitching with a lead. In the bottom of the first, Adam Seaman drove in Jake Mangler with an RBI double and Joe Pierce drove in Jimmy Heck with a sacrifice fly to provide an early 2-0 lead.

That was expanded to 3-0 in the fifth with another run driven in by Seaman, this time a single to score pinch runner Parker Johnson. In the sixth, St. Louis Park tacked on three more with back-to-back home runs from Austin Ledin and Alex Johnson, with Ledin’s a two-run shot.

Two more St. Louis Park runs were scored in the seventh with Ron Blunt’s RBI single and Chris Duda’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

Baseball 365’s best threat to score came in the top of the sixth while trailing 3-0. Michael Thomas worked a two-out walk, and advanced to third on Sam Kulesa’s single to bring the potential tying run to the plate in designated hitter Mark Fenstad. Fenstad flied out to right to end the inning. That was the only instance of a Baseball 365 baserunner moving into scoring position against Odegaard.

On the mound, Nate Cousins started for Baseball 365 and allowed six runs in six innings with 10 hits and one walk. Jack Deutsch and Brad Hauser followed him with an inning each of relief.

The Class A state championship is St. Louis Park’s fourth in team history, to go along with first-place finishes in 2002, 2008 and 2018.

Baseball 365 10, Minnetonka Millers 6

The steady drumbeat of Baseball 365’s offense was too much for the Minnetonka Millers to overcome Sunday afternoon, as Baseball 365 claimed a 10-6 victory in a Class A state tournament elimination game in St. Anthony.

Baseball 365 scored in six of its eight trips to the plate to provide enough support for starting pitcher CJ Smith, who fired all nine innings while allowing six runs (five earned).

After a scoreless first inning, Baseball 365 snared a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second with Mark Fenstad’s home run. In the bottom of the third that lead grew to 2-0 with Sam Kulesa’s RBI double to score Michael Thomas.

Minnetonka then tied the game 2-2 in the top of the third with Joel Thimsen’s two-run home run, but Baseball 365 quickly retook a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third with Matthew Kulesa’s RBI single to score Zane Rutledge.

Minnetonka continued to fight back, scoring once in the top of the sixth, once in the top of the seventh and twice in the top of the eighth.

Each time, however, Baseball 365 responded, first with one run in the bottom of the sixth, five runs in the bottom of the seventh and lastly with one run in the bottom of the eighth.

The five-run seventh inning was powered by RBI singles from Nate Behlen, Matthew Kulesa and Mason Wolf, with Wolf’s driving in a pair of runs and a second run scoring on Kulesa’s when the late throw trailing to nab the speedy second baseman at first base sailed up the line.

In the eighth, Behlen launched a solo home run to allow for a more conformable top of the ninth on the mound for Smith.

The 365 left-hander did enough to limit the damage all afternoon, as Minnetonka tallied eight hits and worked four walks. His four strikeouts and a handful of nice defensive plays behind him helped squelch rallies for the Millers.

For Minnetonka, Brandon Boxey started and tossed 5 2/3 innings while allowing four runs (three earned), four hits, four walks and three hit batters while striking out four. He finished with a no decision, while Dave Cushing took the loss in relief. Cushing retired the only batter he faced in the sixth, but then allowed the first three batters in the seventh to reach base before being replaced by Paul Voelker, who pitched the remainder of the game for the Millers.

Baseball 365 advances into a rematch with St. Louis Park at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon in St. Anthony. Saturday night, St. Louis Park claimed a 2-1 victory against Baseball 365 to remain undefeated in the Class A state tournament.

If St. Louis Park wins Sunday, it claims the state championship. If Baseball 365 wins, a winner-take-all game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in St. Anthony.

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