DELANO — A strong outing by senior Andrew Baumgart, and a solid first inning by the Cardinals, resulted in a 9-1 victory over Benilde-St. Margaret in the Section 6AAA final on Thursday.

With the victory, the Cardinals return to the state Class AAA tournament for the first time since 2018. Prior to 2018, the Cardinals had not been to state since 1987, the same year the Cardinals won the state championship.

Willmar Cardinals manager Tom DeBoer talks to senior Chase Dirksen about his upcoming at-bat during a pitching change for Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune
Willmar Cardinals manager Tom DeBoer talks to senior Chase Dirksen about his upcoming at-bat during a pitching change for Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

“This group of players, they just like to practice, to be together and like to play baseball,” Willmar head coach Tom DeBoer said. “I’m feeling pretty good. I honestly feel like there are going to be eight good teams in this tournament and anybody can come away with it.”

The left-handed pitcher threw all seven innings for the Cardinals, striking out six batters and walking one. At the plate, Baumgart ignited the Willmar offense with a three-run home run in the first inning. The Cardinals held a 5-0 lead at the conclusion of the first inning.

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Willmar left-hander Andrew Baumgart pitched all seven innings and hit a three-run homer in the first to help the Cardinals earn a 9-1 win against Benilde-St. Margaret Thursday, June 10, 2021 at Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune
Willmar left-hander Andrew Baumgart pitched all seven innings and hit a three-run homer in the first to help the Cardinals earn a 9-1 win against Benilde-St. Margaret Thursday, June 10, 2021 at Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

“Andrew Baumgart controlled business on the mound and he really set the tone for the game with his home run in the first inning,” DeBoer said. “When the ball went over the fence in the first inning, he blew the top off the dugout.

“I think it was a statement swing with him saying, ‘we’re going to win this game.’ Everybody just followed suit after that and everybody just went to the plate with a great approach.

“It led to a great inning for us and a great game for us,” DeBoer added.

Willmar junior Sam Etterman charges for home before sliding into the plate and scoring his lone run against Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune
Willmar junior Sam Etterman charges for home before sliding into the plate and scoring his lone run against Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

Following the six-run inning, Willmar scored two runs in the second and one run in the fourth.

The Red Knights scored their lone run in the top of the ninth.

The Cardinals (22-2) will find out their next opponent on Saturday. The Class AAA tournament begins Tuesday at the Mini Met in Jordan.

“I really like our chances, but we’re really going to have to play three good games if that’s going to happen,” DeBoer said.

Willmar junior Cayden Hansen ended the day with a hit and an RBI, helping lead the Cardinals to a 9-1 win over Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday, June 10, 2021 at Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune
Willmar junior Cayden Hansen ended the day with a hit and an RBI, helping lead the Cardinals to a 9-1 win over Benilde-St. Margaret's on Thursday, June 10, 2021 at Delano. Matthew Curry/West Central Tribune

Section 6AAA final

Willmar 9, BSM 1

BSM 000 000 1-1 6 2
Willmar 620 100 x-9 9 1
Hitting - BSM: AJ Louie 1-2, Jonny Woodford 1-3 Tomas Lee 1-1 bb, Ben Thompson 1-3 r, Brady Yakesh 1-2, Charlie Hansen 1-1 rbi … Willmar: Hunter Magnuson 1-2 r-2 sb-3 bb hbp, Ian Koosman 2-4 r-2, Andrew Baumgart 1-3 hr r rbi-3 bb, Sam Etterman 2-3 r sb-2, Dylan Arndorfer 1-3 sb, Alex Schramm 1-3 2b r, Cayden Hansen 1-3 rbi, Brandt Sunder 0-1 r, Sam Raitz r.

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - BSM: Owen Omdahl (L) 1/3-4-6-6-0-1, Myles Wahlquist 3 1/3-5-3-1-2-5, Connor Armand 2 1/3-0-0-0-0-1 … Willmar: Baumgart (W) 7-6-1-1-1-6.