MACCRAY goes for state baseball title
CHASKA -- MACCRAY seems right at home in its first baseball state tournament.
The Wolverines (23-3) first knocked off Browerville/Eagle Valley 10-2 and then the Hawley Nuggets 7-1 to reach today's championship game, scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.
The semifinal victory ended the Nuggets' 13-game win streak.
Senior pitcher Kelly Siverhus got the win against the Broncos and Ethan Pauling, also a senior, pitched into the seventh inning against the Nuggets (15-5).
Jordan Smith, yet another senior pitcher, relieved in both games, getting 12 total outs without allowing a base runner.
A keystone to a golden day of baseball by the Wolverines was their fielding.
"We've played good defense all year, but there were just some phenomenal plays today," said MACCRAY coach Ted Perry. "We had some diving catches and four or five times we caught runners trying to take an extra base."
Smith will take the hill today at Chaska Athletic Park to face Wabasha-Kellogg (24-6). The Falcons scored 21 runs on 26 hits in their two wins while MACCRAY (23-3) piled up 17 runs on 21 hits.
MACCRAY 7, Hawley 1
Pauling, who hadn't been available for two weeks, struggled in the first. He walked Andy Ulven to start the game and a wild pitch moved him to second.
The Wolverines came up with their first defensive highlight. Right fielder Jordan Ruter caught a long fly off the bat of Taylor Harms and threw a no-hop strike to third baseman Shaun Condon to nail Ulven trying to advance.
Pauling issued another walk but got the third out on another fly ball to Ruter.
Tyler Wrede, who was 3-for-3, gave MACCRAY a 1-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly that plated Brandon Madsen, the first of three runs the Wolverines' leadoff hitter would score.
The Wolverines went up 4-0 in the second on RBI hits by Madsen, Tyler Dammann and Jordan Smith.
Dammann, Smith and Wrede were a combined 8-for-11 facing the Nuggets' top pitcher, Joran Clute.
Pauling settled down and would walk only two in six innings while allowing eight hits. The Nuggets, averaging 11 runs a game, scored their only run in the third when MACCRAY had its only error of the day.
Left fielder Wrede made a defensive highlight with a diving catch to rob a Nugget of a hit in the fifth and first baseman Caleb Hanson made an across-the-diamond throw to nail Aaron Schenk, who had doubled, to complete a double play in the same inning that began with a ground ball to Smith at short.
Right fielder Kelly Siverhus, who had just come into the game when Smith took the mound in relief in the seventh, made a diving catch after a long run in right-center to end the game -- a fitting ending to MACCRAY's excellent day.
Hawley 001 000 0 -- 1 8 1
MACCRAY 130 003 x -- 7 11 2
HITTING - Hawley: Andy Ulven 1-for-3, Andrew Regnier 2-for-3, Joran Clute 1-for-3, Erik Rosenfeldt 2-for-3, Aaron Schenck 2-for-3, 2b ... MACCRAY: Brandon Madsen 1-for-3, 3 runs, rbi; Tyler Dammann 3-for-4, 2 runs, 2 rbi; Jordan Smith 2-for-4, 2b, 2 rbi; Tyler Wrede 3-for-3, rbi; Jordan Ruter 1-for-2, 2b, sac fly, rbi; Shaun Condon 1-for-4
PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Hawley: Joran Clute (L) 6-11-7-6-4-4 ... MACCRAY: Ethan Pauling (W) 6-8-1-1-2-2, Jordan Smith 1-0-0-0-0-1
MACCRAY 10, Browerville/EV 2
Perry opened up the Wolverines' playbook in a spectacular debut on the state tournament stage.
Two suicide squeezes, a double steal and a delayed steal of home all worked.
MACCRAY played textbook baseball. The fielding was flawless, with the highlight being a 6-4-2 putout at the plate that denied Browerville/Eagle Valley the tying run in the bottom of the third.
Perry got just what he needed out of starter Kelly Siverhus -- four good innings and a 3-2 lead. Jordan Smith came in from shortstop and retired nine straight Broncos for the save.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines added seven more runs.
Junior first baseman Caleb Hanson, who bats seventh, was the hitting hero. He went 4-for-4 and his triple to the 355-foot sign in right-center field off Bronco ace Scott Lieser lit a spark in the Wolverines' dugout.
"That hit was a huge confidence builder," said Perry. "We really hadn't done much until that point."
Hanson's three-bagger in the second brought in Shaun Condon, who had walked, with the first run.
MACCRAY added two more in the top of the second for a 3-0 lead. Brandon Madsen, who bats leadoff, doubled down the left-field line. Tyler Dammann reached on the first of three Bronco errors. Smith singled in Madsen for a 2-0 lead.
Dammann and Smith then pulled off a double steal. Clean-up batter Tyler Wrede put down a bunt toward third and there was no play on Dammann, who raced down the line for a 3-0 lead.
"You're not going to get a lot of hits off a pitcher (like Lieser), so you've got to try some things on the bases," said Perry. "It's nice when it works, but it's not too pretty when it doesn't."
"We had good defense out there," said catcher Tyler Dammann, a senior. "Our goal every game is to play without errors."
Hanson, whose triple was followed by two hard singles and an infield hit, said with a pitcher who throws as hard as Lieser, he just wanted to get the bat on the ball.
"He was kind of grooving it to everyone else," said the MACCRAY first baseman. "I just got the bat out over the plate and as hard as he was throwing, the ball went a long way."
Lieser, who was 9-1 coming in, gave up seven hits over six innings. Only two of the six runs he allowed were charged.
"He was the hardest thrower we've seen this year," said Dammann, who was 0-for-4 but scored two runs.
Madsen and Smith each had a pair of hits and Condon rapped a two-run double in the seventh.
Browerville/Eagle Valley dropped to 15-13.
MACCRAY 012 021 4 -- 10 10 0
Browerville/ER 002 000 0 -- 2 3 2
HITTING - MACCRAY: Brandon Madsen 2-for-4, 2b, sac fly, rbi; Jordan Smith 2-for-3, rbi; Jordan Ruter 1-for-4, rbi; Shaun Condon 1-for-3, 2b, 2 runs, 2 rbi; Caleb Hanson 4-for-4, 3b, rbi ... Browerville/Eagle Valley: Dillon Lundin 1-for-3, 2b; Patrick Hudalla 1-for-3, rbi; Evan Betts 1-for-3, 2b, rbi
PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- MACCRAY: Kelly Siverhus (W) 4-3-2-2-4-3, Jordan Smith (S) 3-0-0-0-0-4 ... Browerville/Eagle Valley: Scott Lieser (L) 6-7-6-2-1-7, Austin Host 0-2-4-4-2-0, Mitch Heid 1-1-0-0-0-0