ST. CLOUD — Josh Kingery and Jackson Kruger lived up to their billing as two of the top pitchers in Minnesota.

By the time Tuesday's Class AA state quarterfinal between Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and Belle Plaine wrapped up, the two combined for 35 strikeouts.

But it would be Kruger and the unseeded Tigers that came away the 2-0 winner over the third-seeded Falcons at Dick Putz Field.

Kruger struck out 17, allowing two walks and two hits.

“I was able to bring my fastball deep into the game and keep them off-balance,” Kruger said. “They struggled to catch up to the fastball and were off-balance on the curveball.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Belle Plaine's Jake Brandenburg celebrates after scoring the game's first run in the second inning of the Class AA quarterfinals against ACGC on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud. 

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Belle Plaine's Jake Brandenburg celebrates after scoring the game's first run in the second inning of the Class AA quarterfinals against ACGC on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

ACGC didn’t get its first hit until the fifth on a Jaxon Behm single. The Falcons’ best chance of tying the game came in the sixth when leadoff batter Keegan Kessler-Gross opened the bottom half with a walk. Then with two outs, Logan Straumann hit a bloop single to put runners on first and second. Kruger hunkered down and struck out Jack Peterson to end the threat.

“I knew my defense had my back,” Kruger said of getting out of the sixth unscathed. “I had to bear down and get through that inning.”

Said Falcons head coach Mike Kingery, “I don’t understand why we had so many strikeouts. I asked the guys nicely and nobody answered.”

Josh Kingery one-upped Kruger in the strikeout department with 18, falling one short of the state tournament record of 19 set by Springfield’s Mike Davidson in 1963 against Austin.

“You don’t go to too many games with 35 strikeouts,” Mike Kingery said.

In the second, the Tigers were able to pounce on Josh Kingery. Jake Brandenburg opened the top half with a double, then reached home after Kruger hit a ground ball down the first-base line for the first run.

“They were telegraphing signs to the hitters,” Mike Kingery said. “That’s why we had Josh and Logan (Straumann) talking to each other so much in that inning.”

ACGC starting pitcher Josh Kingery fires off a toss during the Class AA quarterfinals against Belle Plaine on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud. 

Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
ACGC starting pitcher Josh Kingery fires off a toss during the Class AA quarterfinals against Belle Plaine on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

After the second, 13 of the next 15 outs were strikeouts by Josh.

Belle Plaine’s other run came with two outs in the fifth after a pop fly to center that would have ended the inning fell to the ground, allowing Joey Burgemeister to score.

“The ball got caught up in the lights,” Mike Kingery said of the error.

Belle Plaine (19-4) advances to the Class AA semifinals against unseeded Aitkin (22-5) at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday back at Putz Field. In the other semifinal, No. 1 Glencoe-Silver Lake (24-3) takes on No. 5 Plainview-Elgin-Millville at noon at Putz Field.

ACGC concludes the season at 22-3. And with the youngest of his eight kids wrapping up high-school career, Mike Kingery announced Tuesday was his last game as coach of the Falcons after five seasons.

“The guys did really well,” Mike said about the season. “Seven of the nine starters will be returning next year.”

Belle Plaine 2, ACGC 0

Belle Plaine 010 010 000-2 3 0
ACGC 000 000 000-0 2 1
Hitting - Belle Plaine: Derek Hoffman 1-4, Joey Buremeister 0-3 r, Jake Brandenburg 1-2 r, Jackson Kruger 1-3 rbi … ACGC: Logan Straumann 1-3, Jaxon Behm 1-3
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Belle Plaine: Jackson Kruger (W) 7-2-0-0-2-17 … ACGC: Josh Kingery (L) 7-3-2-1-0-18

Class AA tournament

Tuesday

(at the Municipal Athletic Complex, St. Cloud)

Quarterfinals

  • Glencoe-Silver Lake 13, St. Agnes 0

  • Plainview-Elgin-Millville 3, Wadena-Deer Creek 1

  • Aitkin 2, Albany 0

  • Belle Plaine 2, ACGC 0

Wednesday

(at the Municipal Athletic Complex, St. Cloud)

Semifinals

Glencoe-Silver Lake (24-3) vs. PEM (22-3), noon, Putz Field

Aitkin (22-5) vs. Belle Plaine (19-4), 2:30 p.m., Putz Field

Third-Place

Semifinal losers, 5 p.m., Putz Field

Friday

(at Target Field, Minneapolis)

Championship

Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.

NOTE: There will be no cash purchases onsite. All tickets can be purchased online at www.mshsl.org/state-tournament-tickets.

Class A tournament

Tuesday

(at the MAC, St. Cloud)

Quarterfinals

  • Hayfield 16, Adrian-Ellsworth 1

  • Springfield 8, South Ridge 3

  • New York Mills 11, Sebeka 4

  • Randolph 9, Fosston 4

Wednesday

(at the MAC, St. Cloud)

Semifinals

No. 1 Hayfield (24-0) vs. No. 5 Springfield (19-7), noon at Faber Field

No. 2 New York Mills (22-2) vs. No. 3 Randolph (23-0), 2:30 p.m. at Faber Field

Friday

(at Target Field, Minneapolis)

Championship

Semifinal winners, 10 a.m.

Class AAA tournament

Tuesday

(at the Mini Met, Jordan)

Quarterfinals

  • St. Thomas Academy 16, Willmar 9

  • Grand Rapids 6, Marshall 2

  • Sartell 3, Albert Lea 2

  • Mahtomedi 2, Sauk Rapids 0

Wednesday

(at the Mini Met, Jordan)

Semifinals

St. Thomas Academy (18-9) vs. No. 5 Grand Rapids (18-7), noon

No. 2 Sartell (22-3) vs. No. 3 Mahtomedi (18-5), 2:30 p.m.

Third place

Semifinal losers, 5 p.m.

Friday

(at Target Field, Minneapolis)

Championship

Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.



Class AAAA tournament

Tuesday

(at Chaska Athletic Park)

Quarterfinals

  • Minnetonka 6, Stillwater Area 5

  • Farmington 1, Mounds View 0

  • Park (Cottage Grove) 4, Rogers 0

  • Andover 10, Hopkins 0

Wednesday

(at Chaska Athletic Park)

Semifinals

Minnetonka (15-10) vs. No. 5 Farmington (19-6), noon

No. 2 Park of Cottage Grove (21-7) vs. No. 3 Andover (22-4), 2:30 p.m.

Friday

(at Target Field, Minneapolis)

Championship

Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.