Hayfield and Randolph Will Battle at Target Field
It will be an all Gopher Conference MSHSL Class A State Championship game Friday, June 17, 2022 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The Hayfield Vikings defeated Sacred Heart 6-0 and Randolph Rockets came from behind to get by New York Mills 4-3 to secure their places in the championship game.
Hayfield is the defending State Champion trying to repeat in baseball after accomplishing back to back titles in boys basketball.
THe Vikings were the top seed, Rockets the #2 seed in the tournament.
Senior Easton Fritcher dominated on the mound to secure Hayfield's spot by allowing just one infield hit in the game. Fritcher struck out 13 batters, walked 3 and hit one while throwing 112 pitches, 73 strikes.
Hayfield scored in the top of the first inning when Fritcher was walked to start the game stole his 27th base of the season and touched home plate after a double off the bat of Karver Heydt.
Yes the seeding of the tournament is good for just the first round. Teams flip a coin for home field after the opening game.
The Vikings added 5 more runs in a 3 hit third inning en route to the victory.
Hayfield third baseman, junior Ethan Pack opened the second inning with a single but was thrown out at second base when first baseman, sophmore Zander Jacobson hit a grounder beating the throw for an attempted double play.
Meanwhile Fritcher was settling into the game. He appeared to be frustrated with the home plate umpire's strike zone after walking 3 of the first 7 batters faced. At one point Hayfield Head Coach Kasey Krekling came out to talk to the home plate umpire when Fritcher was not getting a low strike called.
Eight batters stepped up to the plate for the Vikings in the third inning starting with another Fritcher walk. He gained second base on a wild pitch during the Nolan Klocke at bat, Then scored when Klocke stroked a single to center field.
Following a strike out senior center fielder Isaac Watson clubbed a double to right field scoring Klocke. Sophmore Aiden Nelson walked. There was another strike out for the second out.
Jacobson smashed a two run home run just inside the left field foul pole.
All the runs were scored off freshman Parker Erickson of Sacred Heart (22-4) who allowed 5 of Hayfield's 7 hits in the game.
Meanwhile after securing the 6-0 lead Fritcher went to work. Sacred Heart School of East Grand Forks lead-off hitter senior Cullen Rohrich beat out a grounder for the Eagles only hit of the game in te bottom of the third inning.
Fritcher picked Rohrich off second base after he threw a wild pitch that allowed him to get to second base.
A hit batsman would be the only baserunner Sacred Heart would have the rest of the game.
It looked like Hayfield was going to secure a win by the 10 run rule after five innings when they opened the fourth with a single off the bat of #9 hitter senior Kobe Foster. He stole second base.
Junior right hander Ethan Arntson came in to pitch for Sacred Heart to start the fourth inning.
Followinng a fly out to right field Klocke was safe on a error placing runners at the corners with one out.
Arntson pitched out of the jam by getting a strikeout and fly out to end the threat.
After the hustle single by Rohrich, Fritcher struck out 8 of the remaining 13 batters faced with five of them looking.
The Eagles had just one fly ball out in the game. Fritcher simply overpowered a very good hitting Sacred Heart team.
Arntson did his job by allowing just two hits in his 4 innings of work. The Foster single to open the 4th and a Jacobson single in the 5th inning. The only other base runner was a strikeout passed ball .
Hayfield (24-2) lost to Randolph in extra innings at Randolph during the regular season.
The Rockets win had more fingernail biting involved.
In a rematch of last year's 15 inning longest state tournament game between New York Mills and Randolph the Eagles jumped out to an early lead. The Rockets took the lead in the bottom of the 5th inning while losing one of their best players to an ejection.
Eagles left handed Jonah Johnson was attacking the strike zone early fanning 5 of the first nine batters faced with a no hitter going into the 4th inning.
The second time through the Randolph order was a different story.
After recording his 6th strikeout of 10 batters faced Johnson walked Jacob Weckop and operated out of the stretch for the first time. Weckop was thrown out at second on a ground ball hit by Nathan Weckop. Senior Mason Lorenzen was walked on four pitches.
Nathan Weckop stole third base because Johnson was not paying any attention to him and that might have been the little spark the Rockets needed. The inning ended with no scoring but you could see Randolph gaining some confidence against the senior pitcher that had dominated them in the early stages of the game.
I thought thge Rockets appeared anxious at the plate and credit Johnson for attacking that aggressivemess.
Senior Will Baldus started on the hill for Randolph without much command of his pitches early. He walked the first batter of the game then hit the second batter. A wild pitch allowed those guys to advance a base.
Jonah Johnson ground out with lead hitter for New York Mills Jacob Guck to score. Baldus got back to back strikeouts to end the first inning.
The Eagles would open the second inning with back to back singles followed by an error allowing a run to score. The #9 batter for New York Mills got a bunt single to load the bases.
Guck smacked a single with one run scoring to load the bases again. The next batter hammered a ball to third with the infield in and sophmore Tayven Geiger threw home to get the force out.
Baldus then settled down striking out 7 batters, allowing 4 hits while walking 1 and hitting a batter.
The bottom of the fifth inning started with a walk for Randolph by juniot Evan Bennerotte. Geiger then smacked a two strike single for the first Rockets hit of the game.
Junior center fielder Collin Otto attacked a 1-1 count fast ball and pulled it down the left field line for a bases clearing triple. Arguably the biggest hit of the game.
#9 hitter freshman Brayden Olson was hit by a pitch. With the infield drawn in Senior Drew Jenkins got a infield single to load the bases. Jacob Weckop worked the count full before getting a RBI on a bases loaded walk to tie the game.
Following a pop out for the first out that ended with the ejection of a Randolph player Lorenzen was walked giving the Rockets the lead they would never relinquish.
Nathan Weckop hit a pop up that was caught by the first baseman who was standing right in the first baseline to catch the pop up. Weckop did intentionally knock down the first baseman resulting in the umpire ejection.
Weckop does have the right to run to first base and had he simply run him over in his attempt to get to first I don't know what the umpire would have ruled but you would have had an argument that he was trying to get to first without running out of the basepath to get there.
In the heat of battle Weckop clearly lowered his shoulder to knock over the first baseman resulting in the immediate ejection from the game.
The unfortuante thing is the senior will not be allowed to play in the State Championship game Friday at Target Field because the ejection results in an automatic one game suspension. He probably would have been Randolph's starting pitcher in the contest.
Give the Rockets credit for keeping their heads in the game after that pop out. It was a full count when Lorenzen was walked to score the winning run.
With Nathan Weckop unavailable to go back to shortstop in the top of the 6th inning Randolph moved Jenkins to short, broght Otto in from center to play second, moved Bray Olsen from left to go to center.
All of those moved players would be essential to securing a Randolph win.
In the top of the 6th inning Jenkins made two outstanding plays to end the inning.
Following a one out single in the top of the 7th innng Randolph Head Coach Chris Stanton brought in catcher Jacob Weckop to pitch. Geiger was moved from third base to catch.
Weckop's first batter was not a easy out. New York Mills starting pitcher Jonah Johnson fouled off pitch after pitch. He worked the count full and fouled off more pitches before on the 14th pitch of the at bat he flied out to center.
The first out of the 7th by the way was a catch made by Otto at second of a smoked ball off the bat of Guck.
Sophmore catcher Bode Roberts collected a infield single to put the tying run into scoring position bringing back memories of last year's marathon when it looked like Randolph was going to the title game and the Eagles came back to send the game into extra innings.
One of the Rockets coaches asked me after the game if I was having a bit of deja vu at that point like he was. "Oh yeah" was my reply.
With the tying run at second and go ahead run at first the next batter hit a 2-2 count pitch high in the air to center. Olsen ranged to his right and secured the ball to send Randolph to Friday's state title game.
Randolph (23-1) plays Hayfield (24-2) in the all Gopher Conference Championship game on KDHL Radio, 920 AM, 97.9 FM and worldwide on the FREE KDHL app.
The first thing Coach Stanton said to me after the game was, "Well Gordy you got your wish."
All season long I've mentioned I thought these two teams were good enough to be there on the last day of the high school baseball season and indeed they are.
The Third place game was won by New York Mills (24-4) 9-8 over Sacred Heart (22-5) and MACCRAY (17-7) edged New Ulm Cathedral (23-5) 8-7 for the Consolation Championship.
In other State Tournaments
Top seed Fairmont defeated Rochester Lourdes 7-2 and Roseau will be the oppnent after their 8-1 win over St. Agnes. The Rams and Aggies were not seeded in the tournament.
Fairmont (26-3) will face Roseau (19-6) for the AA title at 1:00 p.m. at Target Field in Minneapolis on Friday, June 17, 2022.
Lourdes captured third place in a 11-9 win over St. Agnes and Marshall School of Duluth captured the Consolation Championship trophy with a 5-4 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud
Big Nine Conference Champion Mankato West punched their ticket to the title game with a 3-2 win over Alexandria Area. The top seed Scarlets will go up against #2 seed Benilde-St. Margaret's after the Red Knights defeated Grand Rapids 10-8 in the other Semifinals game at Chaska Athletic Park.
Mankato West (25-1) faces Benilde-St. Margaret's (23-3) at 4:00 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2022 at Target Field.
Alexandria Area (21-7) win Third Place 13-3 over Grand Rapids (17-8).
Mahtomedi (20-5) ended their season with a 10-0 win over St. Francis (14-13) in the Consolation Championship.
Semi-Finals and Third Place game at CHS Field in St. Paul were not played due to rain and have been re-scheduled for Thursday, June 16, 2022 at the same times.
Noon Farmington (22-3) will tangle with Maple Grove (20-4) and 2:30 p.m. it's Stillwater (21-4) and Chanhassen (17-9) in the other Semi-Final.
The Third Place game will be played at 5:00 p.m.
Consolation Bracket games were played at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis with Park Cottage Grove defeating St. Louis Park 10-0 and Sartell getting by Andover 8-3.
The Consolation Championship was won by Park (20-8) 5-2 over Sartell (15-12).
The biggest Minnesota high schools in terms of enrollment are scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. title game Friday, June 17, 2022 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
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