CLASS C ROUNDUP FRIDAY AT DASSEL: The Liesers lead St. Martin into final eight

By Eric Kraushar

news@mnbaseball.orgSt. Martin won three consecutive Region 15 games by one run to claim the championship and advance to the team’s fourth straight state tournament. 

One more run has continued to be the theme for the Martins through two state games. Coming off a 7-6 win over Loretto on Aug. 27, St. Martin advanced to the final eight on Sept. 1, with a 5-4 win over Avon in Dassel.

It was Avon that knocked off St. Martin in the 2022 state tournament in 10 innings by, you guessed it, one run (2-1).

“One-run has been our MO. We had a playoff game where we won by one on a walk-off; all three region games, and now this. We came here, got the monkey off our back, we’ve shown we can hit the ball. It’s props to our guys because they’re locked in. They want this more than they’ve ever before,” Kyle Lieser said.

That extra run ended up being off the bat of Lieser in the eighth inning, a solo shot over the left-field fence, capping an impressive day at the plate for the Martin shortstop. Lieser was 2-for-2 with a double, homer, two walks, an RBI, and two runs scored.

Lieser also reached base in the sixth inning, putting St. Martin up 4-2 on Scott Lieser’s double.

“The previous one, the double down the line, it was a curveball and I kind of got it there off the end,” Lieser said. “The left-fielder made a tremendous play to nearly catch that. I figured my next at-bat I was going to get a fastball. The more (velocity) I see, the more I’m trying to jump on a pitch since I’m a pull guy. I was geared up for it, and I didn’t miss it.”

Kyle and Scott’s dads are cousins. They had never met until high school. Kyle was a St. Martin native and Albany High School graduate. Scott grew up in Browerville, north of Sauk Centre. Both played at St. Cloud State University. Scott made a pitch to Kyle to join him at St. Cloud State. When Scott got a job as an assistant coach at St. John’s University, Kyle was the one making the pitch this time, ultimately getting Scott to join St. Martin.

“We just wanted to keep playing ball together. It’s just a blast being around him. He’s one of my best friends. We live for this. Baseball runs deep in our family,” Kyle Lieser said.

There was never any doubt that Scott, coming off a game in which he scattered 18 hits, pitching 8 2/3 innings in a 7-6 win over Loretto, just five days earlier, was getting the ball against Avon.

Despite a shaky start, a two-run homer from Lakers’ Caleb Curry in the first inning, Lieser settled in, finishing with 10 strikeouts in allowing seven total hits. Twice Avon got within a run at 4-3 and 5-4 — a solo shot from Reese Gregory in the ninth inning made things interesting — but Lieser only seemed to get stronger when he needed it the most.

“If you went up and down our team, nobody would be surprised. (Scott) takes care of himself,” Kyle Lieser said. “He runs, he walks, he gets treatment. He’s a gamer. He doesn’t have the (velocity) he had a couple of years ago, but he made it to minor league ball for a reason; he knows how to pitch. If we play good defense behind him, we know he’s going to keep us in games.”

Scott Lieser was also 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI at the plate. Brady Goebel and Ryan Messer each had RBI-doubles as well for the Martins.

Elian Mazquita, in relief of Dom Austing, struck out nine batters in 5 1/3 innings of work for Avon. He finished with nine strikeouts, including three straight with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

St. Martin plays the Waconia/Bird Island winner at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3 in Litchfield.

“The last few years we were here, we were pretty young,” Kyle Lieser said. “We were starting a few 20-year-olds, and now they’re starting to grow up a little bit. It’s fun to see that look of success in their eyes. I mean, if you can’t enjoy this game, enjoy this tournament, I’m not sure why you’re out here.”

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