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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Eagles' freshman Austin Haas beats the throw to avoid a double play as freshman teammate Brandon Hill, who had singled, is forced out at second in the third inning.

State Baseball: Eagles dream season ends in 6-0 loss

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MINNEAPOLIS -- There's an old Swedish saying that "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy."

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The Lac qui Parle Valley high-school baseball team looked a little out of their element among the skyscrapers of downtown Minneapolis on a hot Monday afternoon.

Batted balls the Eagles had gobbled up in the Section 3A playoffs and in the first two Class A Minnesota State Tournament games went through the wickets or bounced out of gloves. An outfield throw went off line and rolled into the camera pit at Target Field.

The Eagles, who logged just two errors in 14 innings in getting to the ultimate game, had two by the time the first inning had closed.

The Aggies of St. Agnes Catholic High School, near downtown St. Paul, had two runs by that time and that proved plenty for sophomore right-hander Jack Fossand as the city slickers spilled the upstarts from the state's western border 6-0.

The Eagles were outhit 8-4. The Aggies were sharp as a tack in the field and pretty much ran the bases like the kids' run on Sunday afternoon after the Twins game (seven stolen bases).

"We were really nervous playing in such a big venue," said junior third-baseman Colby Siegert. "We really didn't play our game. We struggled, and they're a good team. But, boy, it was a fun ride getting here."

The Eagles, 10-9 late in the season, won eight straight to reach the Holy Grail of prep baseball. The small-school final led off Champion Monday under full sun and 90 degrees.

The Aggies beat New York Mills 1-0 and Blackduck 7-0 to reach Target while LQPV knocked off Ely 2-1 and Browerville 4-1.

Brandon Bornhorst, who threw the Ely win, kept his composure in the heat and lack of support in the field. He would stick it out all seven innings throwing a humongous 141 pitches (Fossand threw 85) with three walks and five strikeouts.

The Aggies seemed to mount a threat in every inning; they added two more runs in the third and another pair in the fourth.

Shortstop Dylan Erickson confessed there were no excuses for the fielding lapses.

"You're never going to get a bad hop on this field," he said. "I had trouble getting the ball out of the glove on the first ball hit to me, but made a play on the next batter and felt OK after that. It was so fun to play here."

The Eagles didn't sting many balls against Fossand, who pitched a three-hit shutout against NY Mills. Jared Roiland, Ben Morken, Brandon Hill, and Sam Haas each singled in separate innings. The first five in the Eagles' order went a combined 1-for-14.

Haas said the Aggies' pitcher wasn't overpowering nor did he have a nasty curve "But he hit his spots."

"They showed up and played better than us today," said Haas. "But who would have believed when we started 3-5 that we would end up here -- just walking on the Twins' field and being in the dugouts and their batting cage. And you couldn't ask for a better day."

True. Though a boiler, it sure beat the five-hour rain delay on the tournament's first day down in Chaska.

This was the first trip for the Eagles and Bart Hill, who finishes his 17th season as head coach. His 2011 team lost nine seasons, most of them starters, so a section title seemed unlikely, though dropping a class to Class A made the path less uphill.

"It was a heckuva run to get here," he said. "Borney pitched well enough, but we weren't real crisp to start and when they got those two runs right away our boys were pressing."

The Aggies proved to be good hitters, too. Charlie Turch, batting in the three-spot, singled to left in the first, double to right in the third, and single to left, again, in the fourth, scoring each time. Turch pitched a shutout in the semifinals and batted 6-for-9.

He was one of four Aggies named to the 12-player All-Tournament Team. The Eagles also placed four: senior Brandon Bornhorst, juniors Ben Morken and Colby Siegert and freshman Brandon Hill.

Maybe the Aggies were so at home at Target because they are vagabonds. The school does not have a baseball field; they play "home games" at Midway Stadium, Concordia University and Dunning Field.

St. Agnes 6, Lac qui Parle Valley 0

St. Agnes 202 200 0 -- 6 8 0

LQP Valley 000 000 0 -- 0 4 5

HITTING - St. Agnes: Ryan Hernandez 0-for-4, Evan Morehead 1-for-4, 2 runs; Charlie Turch 3-for-4, 3 runs; Mitch Knippenberg 1-for-3, 2 rbi; Jack Fossand 1-for-4, Joe McDonald 0-for-2, rbi; Nick Turch 2-for-4, Josh Gutzmann 0-for-4, Joey Graham 0-for-1, Ned O'Sullivan 0-for-1 ... LQPV: Colby Siegert 0-for-3, Dylan Erickson 0-for-3, Sam Haas 1-for-3, Preston Kraft 0-for-3; Paul Blom 0-for-2, Jared Roiland 1-for-2, Ben Morken 1-for-2, John Weeding 0-for-1, Brandon Hill 1-for-2, Austin Haas 0-for-2

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- St. Agnes: Jack Fossand (W) 7-4-0-0-1-4... LQPV: Brandon Bornhorst (L) 7-8-6-4-3-5

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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