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MACCRAY will have to get past BEV's Lieser in state quarterfinal

Ted Perry

CHASKA -- If one game can define a high school baseball season, this one would be it.

MACCRAY faces Browerville/Eagle Valley in the quarterfinals of the state Class A tournament at 12:30 p.m. today at Chaska Athletic Park.

The winner is guaranteed at least fourth place and the loser might not play Friday.

It's a difficult burden to bear, especially since most section tournaments have a loser's bracket where a team can come back to the championship round.

"You don't get many chances," said Wolverines coach Ted Perry. "You don't want to play it out so you don't have a chance to win."

Which is why MACCRAY (21-3) will have a tough task against Browerville/Eagle Valley, or more to the point, the Broncos' star pitcher, Scott Lieser.

"When he pitches, they're really, really good," Perry said. "We have to somehow find a way to get by him."

Lieser, who will pitch for St. Cloud State this coming school year, is 9-1 with a 1.46 ERA in 62Zc innings. When he's not on the mound, Browerville/Eagle Valley (15-11) is 6-10.

The Wolverines will counter with one of the best offenses in Class A. MACCRAY boasts a .366 team batting average and has four hitters over .400 this season.

Jordan Smith, the school's all-time hits leader, paves the way with a .500 average. He has 37 hits, five home runs and 32 RBI. Tyler Dammann has a .446 average with 37 hits, one homer and 27 RBI. Tyler Wrede is not far behind with 30 hits and a .441 average and Jordan Ruter holds a .406 average.

"We have a pretty balanced lineup and can score from almost anywhere in our lineup," Perry said.

Perry said he could start any one of three pitchers -- Smith, the staff ace with 6-1 record and a 1.75 ERA; Ethan Pauling, 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA; or Kelly Siverhus, also 6-1 with a 2.49 ERA.

"Actually, the setup is really good for us, because we have three really good pitchers. I'm not afraid to send anyone of our top pitchers up there," he said.

"I think we have a chance to win it, but I don't think we can if we send Jordan Smith out there to start the first game. Ideally, maybe he closes the first day and then he starts the second day."

Lieser and Dillon Lundin lead the Browerville/Eagle Valley offense. Lundin has eight home runs, a .425 average and 21 RBI. Lieser is batting .462 with five homers and 28 RBI. Levi May and Patrick Hudalla are each batting over .350 and have 20 RBI.