PREP BASEBALL: Seasoned Tigers looking to add to special season at state

MARSHALL – When the Marshall Tigers began the season they didn’t necessarily look like a team that had the makings of a state tournament team. They were 4-3 and just lost to West Fargo 10-0.

It just goes to show you that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Since that shutout loss the Tigers have gone 14-3 and at one point won 11 straight.

“Our season has been a tale of two halves,” Marshall coach, Chace Pollock said. “We started the year 5-4, and then the second half of the year we really started to figure it out and went on a winning streak there. We continued that momentum throughout the playoffs.”

A big part of Marshall’s turnaround was a more disciplined approach at the plate.

“I think we started to put together better at bats,” Pollock said. “We started doing the little things right. The old adage, hitting is contagious. I thought we started to swing the bats a little bit better. I think at the end of the season we were swinging the bat as well as we have.”

The Tigers punched their ticket to state last week by defeating Mankato West, 5-2. The clincher came after Mankato West defeated Marshall 10-3 in a game that had two lightning delays and that lasted nearly four hours.

For Marshall it was a game that showed off their mental toughness and resiliency. It’s two things that have been on display for the Tigers all season, as they’ve mounted a handful of comebacks and rallies in what’s been a special season.

“When you come from behind over and over again it becomes part of you,” Pollock said. “You feel like you are never out of a ball game. With any deficit in any game we’ve pretty much come back from it. The Worthington game we were down 7-1 and we strung some things together and ended up winning the game. That’s not by luck. You work for that moment and you work for the ability to do that. The kids stay sharp. It’s a good group from top to bottom. Everybody on our team has a role. They do a great job of that.”

The Tigers are a seasoned group. They have 11 seniors and Pollock said that senior leadership is a big reason why they feel no deficit is insurmountable.

“The strength is our senior leadership,” Pollock said. “We have 11 seniors on this team, which is very rare to have that many. When you watch us practice and play, you can tell that the seniors have played a big part.”

The group of seniors include, Brandon Labat, Ryan Landmark, Ryan VanMoer, Zachary Thompson, Joseph Blanchard, Christopher Allen, Kenneth Morris, Brock Boerboom, Logan Tomasek and Dylan Criquet-Danielson. Pollock said the seniors all know their role and come to practice everyday with a positive attitude.

“They’ve meant a lot to this program,” Pollock said. “This group has really figured it out. This group really loves baseball. There are some kids that are going to go on and play college baseball. I think they all have a passion to play the game and genuinely love to play.”

Criquet-Danielson is a finalist for Mr. Baseball in the state of Minnesota. He’ll also be playing Division I ball next year for the University of Oklahoma. Pollock said Criquet-Danielson is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

“Dylan has such a wide variety of skills,” Pollock said. “He can play any position, which at the high school level is very important. When we move guys around or have a pitching change, he’s the guy that’s always on the move and that speaks to his ability. He can play any one of those positions and fill in great for us. He led our team in hitting all year.”

The Tigers were awarded the fifth seed in the Class AAA state tournament. They’ll play Red Wing at Siebert Field today at 12:30 p.m.

Red Wing finished the regular season with a 17-7 record. They enter the state tournament riding a six-game winning streak.

The senior laden team is three wins away from capping off their prep sports careers with a state title. Pollock said he told his team to enjoy the moment and soak it all in.

“I want them to just enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a rare opportunity for them. I don’t want them to over think it or anything like that. I just want them to soak it up. These are the memories that these kids will remember for the rest of their life’s.”