PREP BASEBALL: Tigers use strong pitching to sneak past Red Wing, 3-1 to advance to state semifinals
MINNEAPOLIS – Fresh off their exhilarating section tournament run that ended in a trip to the state tournament, the Marshall baseball team made the trek to Siebert Field on the University of Minnesota campus looking to make some noise in the Class AAA state tournament Thursday afternoon.
The Tigers rolled into Minneapolis as the No. 5 seed, and would square off against the No. 4 seed and Big 9 champion in Red Wing. The Wingers came in with a 17-7 record, a mark that was pretty evenly matched with Marshall’s record of 18-6.
The two teams showed why they were so evenly matched, as they became locked in a tight game that didn’t look like it was going to end. But the Tigers used a late-inning rally and were guided by the strong arm of senior Mason Penske on the mound, and Marshall slipped past Red Wing 3-1 in the opening round of state action.
Penske said they were able to gain comfortability with the atmosphere of state baseball and the similarities they saw in Red Wing with their own team as the afternoon went on.
“We’re very evenly matched. We were exactly mirrored after the fourth inning with one home run each and one hit each,” Penske said. “It was a little different batting, just being out in the field and the atmosphere, but I think we’re a little more comfortable now. Overall, it was a good pitching battle and it was fun.”
The Wingers went with starting pitcher Teddy Tauer, who made his opening statements on the hill in the very first inning, when he struck out Marshall’s first three batters. Penske was able to get around a single and a stolen base with his first strikeout of the afternoon to put the game scoreless after one inning of play.
In the top of the second, however, Marshall’s Logan Tomasek had other plans than a strikeout against Tauer. The senior connected on a Tauer pitch and drove it over the left-center fence to break open the scoring and give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead.
After another handful of scoreless at bats by either team – thanks in part of the classic pitcher’s duel between Tauer and Penske – the Wingers knotted things back up at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Tyler Defore blasted a Penske pitch over the left field wall and on top of a storage garage directly behind the fence. Penske would stay calm, though, striking out a pair of batters to maintain the 1-1 chess match.
In the top of the fifth, the Tigers finally got another base hit off of Tauer, this time off the bat of Jacob Hess. After a Zach Thompson walk, Brock Boerboom tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. But the ball bounced off the bat and straight up in the air, where Tauer made a diving catch before getting the runner in scoring position out for a double play. The Tigers wouldn’t get any closer in the inning, and the game remained at 1-1.
Marshall would once again find a hole in the infield in the top of the sixth when Ryan VanMoer slapped a single to right field. Dylan Criquet-Danielson then stepped up to the plate, but would hit a towering pop-up toward first base.
But the blustery winds that had been swirling around the facility all day grabbed ahold of the ball and shifted it off the first baseman’s glove for an error. VanMoer took off for second, but the off-balanced throw from the Wingers’ first baseman sailed over the glove of the shortstop, sending the ball into foul territory down the third base line.
VanMoer would hustle around third and score while Criquet-Danielson slid into third to give the Tigers the lead at 2-1 and a baserunner just 90 feet away from another run. Tomasek then delivered his second RBI of the day with a single to right, extending Marshall’s lead to 3-1.
Penske would then take control of his freshly-given lead over the final two innings, and the Tigers would advance to the state semifinals.
Marshall coach Chace Pollock said they did just enough to get the victory and the games going forward are going to have a similar style to the one they played Thursday.
“We did just enough and hit just enough to give ourselves a chance on the basepaths,” Pollock said. “We won a good ballgame and these games are all going to be close.”
Tomasek led the way for the Tigers with a 2 for 3 day at the plate with two RBIs while Hess and VanMoer both went 1 for 3.
Tomasek said their key on the offensive end was not trying to do too much and just make good contact with the ball.
“We knew it was going to be a pitcher’s duel and he did throw fast for us. The main thing that was going through our head was don’t do too much and just get on for the next guy,” Tomasek said. “We didn’t really change much throughout the game. We knew we were a good hitting team and we just stick to what we know and hit the ball.”
Penske earned the complete game win on the hill, allowing just two hits and one run while striking out seven. Tauer took the loss for Red Wing, giving up four hits and three runs while striking out 11.
Pollock said Penske has done a great job this season and has continued to deliver when called upon on the mound.
“Mason did a heck of a job today on the mound for us; he really battled,” Pollock said. “He threw another great game, and we’re really riding him on the mound right now and he’s doing a heck of a job.
Marshall (19-6) will square off against No. 1 Waconia, who eluded No. 4 Mahtomedi on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth. First pitch is scheduled for noon today at Siebert Field.
Pollock said their biggest takeaway was the fact that they didn’t commit any errors on defense, a sometimes overlooked, but major stat especially when it comes to postseason play.
“We didn’t have an error today,” Pollock said. “If you’re going to play like that, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.”
Marshall 3, Red Wing 1
Marshall 010 002 0 — 3 4 0
Red Wing 000 100 0 — 1 2 2
HITTING: Marshall (Tomasek 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Hess 1-3; VanMoer 1-3, R).
PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO): Marshall (Penske 7.0-2-1-1-2-7).