St. Paul Capitals claim 2014 Class A championship

Posted on Aug. 19, 2014 by Erik Steffenson 

It took 54 hours (game was suspended Sunday and resumed at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday), eight pitchers, and 13 innings to complete the game, but when it was all said and done, the St. Paul Capitals walked off with a 5-4 win over the Minnetonka Millers Tuesday night for the 2014 Class A championship.

The prolonged game was definitely worth the wait. The Capitals had been blowing out their opponents throughout the Class A playoffs with great hitting and exceptional pitching. The Millers, though, had other ideas when it came to facing the Capitals for the second time in the tournament. 

Max Langheinrich was on the mound for Minnetonka and the Capitals struck first with a RBI single by Derek Jacobson that drove in the first Capital run in the bottom of the second. Eugene “Geno” Sturm was on the mound for the Capitals and had a solid day on the mound. The Millers finally got to him in the fifth inning when Kyle Dalton drove in a run on a gorundout and was followed by an RBI double by Joe Abellera to give the Millers a 2-1 lead. The Capitals responded in the bottom of the sixth with a run to tie the game 2-2.

The seventh inning was led with a hit by pitch and a walk for the Millers. Dalton laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the runners on third and second. Abellera was hit in the head by a pitch and that was it for Sturm. Dustin Klabunde came in to try and do damage control and it worked as Joe Shallenberger hit a sacrifice fly and Mike Davis grounded out to end the top half with only one run given up. The Capitals came right back in the bottom half that started out on an error by Shallenberger that led to Logan Busch getting on first. Rick Tossey would drive him in on a RBI double to tie the game. With bases loaded and two outs, Phil McDermott drove in the leading run on a single to make it 4-3.

Eric Fasnacht walked to lead off the ninth inning and would end up at third on a passed ball and a sacrifice bunt by Jared Kramer. Kyle Dalton hit a blooper behind third base to drive in the tying run. It would stay 4-4 after the ninth and then the game hit a 25-minute delay. With solid relief pitching from Donny Erdall for the Millers and Matt Nelson and Nate Trelstad for the Capitals, the game had three more scoreless innings and Mother Nature decided she had enough and the game was suspended with a 4-4 tie after 12 innings.

The game resumed Tuesday night and in the 13th inning Trelstad continued his solid work and kept the Millers hitless in the top half. Logan Busch led off the bottom half with a single to left center and then stole second during the next at bat. Mark Groebner hit a deep fly ball to left center to advance Busch to third. The next two batters were intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Tom Peterson came to plate and hit the first pitch he saw to center field where it would be caught by Abellera. Busch took off on the tag and the throw was not in time as he scored the winning run to give the Capitals the 5-4 victory and the Class A title.

Josh Kubitschek was given the tournament MVP since he had two solid starts and tossed two outs in relief in the title game. He totaled 16.2 innings, allowing only two runs as he put up great starts against St. Paul Roosters and the first game against Minnetonka.

“It helps a lot when you have great defense and great offense to help you.” Kubitschek said. “It’s my first year on the team, and these guys are fun to play with.” 

The Capitals started in 2010 and the only other state tournament appearance they have made was in 2012 when they finished third.

“It’s very exciting to have this opportunity and after a great season have this as a result,” manager Phil McDermott said about the season. “Minnetonka sets the standard in Class A ball and we just played solid baseball against other very tough teams in the tournament.”

With their first championship in hand, this was a very special day for the Capitals.

Thank you George Walker, Matt (the eccentric announcer), Nick (the other half of the pressbox duo), and the rest of the Bloomington crew for a great tournament. 

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