CLASS AAA BASEBALL: Fighting to the end

Marshall splits pair of games to earn sixth-place finish at state

Photo by Sam Thiel Marshall’s Andrew Mulso follows through on a base hit during their Class AAA consolation semifinal game against Duluth Denfeld on Friday at the University of Northwestern in Roseville.

ROSEVILLE – The Marshall baseball team made one of its biggest statements of the season during the Section 2AAA Tournament, in which the Tigers reeled off five straight victories on the brink of elimination to reach the state tournament.

With their backs against the wall again, they decided to create a little late-season magic one last time.

The Tigers bounced back from a tough quarterfinal loss on Thursday with a rallying, late-scoring 10-6 victory over Duluth Denfeld before falling short against second-seeded Hill-Murray 10-2 in the Class AAA consolation championship game to earn a sixth-place finish to end their season. Marshall finished with an overall record of 18-12.

Marshall coach Chace Pollock said despite the tough finish, he was proud of the way his team showed a lot of fight and was able to compete among the state’s best right until the end.

“The fight is one thing, coming through the loser’s bracket to get here speaks for itself, but also our work here at the state tournament,” Pollock said. “We were right here with the top teams in our class; throughout the season you don’t really know what other areas that the state has and what their programs are like until you get there. For us to go against these teams and to see them play and know that our program is one of the best in the state is something to be confident and happy about.”

Going into next season, Pollock said a lot of their younger players were able to get some great experience at the state tournament and this season and they’re excited to watching them take the next step.

“We had some young guys out there that got some valuable experience, some guys got some innings on the mound and in the field and we’re very comfortable with those guys,” Pollock said. “We’ve got another really good group coming up, we’ve got a really good sophomore group we like a lot, so we’re excited about those kids and we’ll have to start building our roster for next year and see what we’ve got.”

Hill-Murray 10, Marshall 2

Looking to close out their season on a high note, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead when Cody Greve smacked a one-out double to left-center before coming around to score on a Nick Macchio RBI single to take a 1-0 advantage. Unfortunately for Marshall, that lead was short-lived, as Hill-Murray answered back with a trio of runs in the bottom of the first before adding two more in the second to take a 5-1 lead.

Throughout the next several innings, Marshall would continue to hit the ball hard at the plate, but just couldn’t get it to find a spot that wasn’t occupied by a Pioneer defender. The Tigers would have a strong opportunity to produce a run in the top of the sixth with a pair of walks by Isaac Schmitt and Kaleb Welvaert and capitalized when Andrew Mulso lined an RBI single to right to cut the deficit to three at 5-2.

But just like they did in the first, the Pioneers were able to respond in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with no outs before reaching on an error that scored two runs before adding a two-run triple and an RBI single to push their lead to 10-2.

Greve, Zach Olson, Macchio, Mulso and Trey Steinbach led the way for the Tigers with a hit apiece while Macchio and Mulso both recorded an RBI.

Jack Bly took the loss on the mound, going one inning while allowing five runs on three hits.

Marshall 10,

Duluth Denfeld 6

After battling through a tight, low-scoring affair before Benilde-St. Margaret’s rallied late, the Tigers decided to answer the call in the final innings themselves against the Hunters. With Marshall trailing 2-1, the Tigers opened up the sixth inning with a Welvaert walk before Jordan Mernaugh drew a walk and Matt Hmielewski delivered a game-tying RBI single to make it 2-2. Jackson Hughes reached on a bunt single to load the bases before Greve later got aboard on an infield single and errant throw to first, scoring two in the process and giving Marshall a 4-2 lead.

The Tigers weren’t done there, however, as the Marshall offense broke out the bats in the next frame. Macchio and Welvaert drew back-to-back walks before Mulso and Mernaugh connected on run-scoring swings to make it 6-2. Marshall then quickly loaded the bases before Alex Thompson smacked a single that scored a pair of runs and Greve followed in his teammate’s footsteps with a two-RBI base hit of his own on the ensuing at-bat to extend the Tigers’ advantage to 10-2 going into the bottom of the seventh.

Despite a looming deficit and its season on the line, Duluth Denfeld refused to quit and was able to load the bases with two outs before an RBI single and three consecutive walks brought in four runs and cut the deficit to four. But Bly would come on in relief and shut down any further comeback hopes with a groundout to second and Marshall would extend its season to one more game with a 10-6 victory.

Greve led the way for the Tigers, going 3 for 5 with three RBI while Hmielewski added three hits and an RBI and Schmitt and Hughes each had a pair of hits.

Welvaert earned the win on the mound, going six innings while allowing two runs on three hits and striking out four.

Stellar seniors

Friday’s games also marked the final times Marshall’s six seniors would hit the field in a Tigers uniform. This year’s class includes Thompson, Macchio, Hughes, Mulso, Greve and Schmitt.

Pollock said all six seniors have done a great job of providing leadership for their program throughout the last few years and is proud of all they were able to accomplish.

“The seniors have been great leaders for us. We’re going to have to replace six starters, a lot of at-bats, a lot of innings played in and I don’t know how we’re going to do it, it’s going to be tough,” Pollock said. “But those guys left their mark, they’ve been here and punched our third ticket in five years and gave those younger kids the experience that they got when they were younger. I couldn’t be happier for those guys.”

Macchio said his teammates and coaches have played a tremendous role in shaping who he has become today and is grateful for all of the support and guidance they’ve shown him throughout the last few years.

“If it wasn’t for my coaches and my teammates, I don’t think I would be going on to play college baseball,” Macchio said. “I’m one of the few fortunate people that can say that because of them and they’ve helped guide me and show me the rights and wrongs and this journey of what’s truly important. It’s truly a blessing and something that I’ll never forget.”

Greve said he’s going to miss his teammates that he’s grown up with the most.

“Definitely the teammates that I’ve made friendships with the rest of my life,” he said.

Greve added a quick piece of advice to his fellow teammates as they head into next season.

“Just never give up and it’s a long season and you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Marshall 10, Duluth Denfeld 6

Marshall 001 003 6 – 10 14 1

Duluth 010 100 4 – 6 4 2

HITTING: Marshall (Thompson 1-5, 2 RBI; Greve 3-5, 3 RBI; Schmitt 2-5; Welvaert 1-1; Mulso 1-3; Mernaugh 1-2, RBI; Hmielewski 3-3, RBI; Hughes 2-4).

PITCHING (IP-R-ER-H-BB-SO): Marshall (Welvaert 6-2-2-3-0-4; Jacobson 0.2-4-4-1-6-0; Bly 0.1-0-0-0-0-0).

Hill-Murray 10, Marshall 2

Marshall 100 001 0 – 2 5 4

Hill-Murray 320 005 x – 10 6 1

HITTING: Marshall (Greve 1-3; Olson 1-1; Macchio 1-3, RBI; Mulso 1-3, RBI; Steinbach 1-1).

PITCHING (IP-R-ER-H-BB-SO): Marshall (Bly 1-5-3-3-1-0; Terfehr 4.1-5-0-3-1-4; Jacobson 0.2-0-0-0-1-1).