CLASS AAA BASEBALL: Tigers get tripped up in first round of state tournament

Photo by Jake Przytarski Marshall’s Isaac Schmitt delivers a pitch during their Class AAA tournament game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Thursday at Siebert Field at the University of Minnesota. The Tigers fell to the Red Knights 3-1.

MINNEAPOLIS – With two ace pitchers squaring off in Marshall’s Class AAA tournament quarterfinal matchup with No. 5 seed Benilde-St. Margaret’s at Siebert Field, runs were expected to be at a premium and every at-bat was expected to be a battle.

Tiger starter Isaac Schmitt did his part in keeping the Red Knight offense in check with nine strikeouts in six innings pitched, but a two-run seventh inning would prove to be the difference in the low-scoring affair as Benilde-St. Margaret’s escaped with a 3-1 victory to move on to the semifinals.

Disappointed by the outcome but pleased with the effort put forth by the team, coach Chace Pollock applauded his club for their tenacity.

“I’m happy with the way we battled,” said Pollock. “That kid on the mound was really, really good. We fought through some at-bats and I’m proud of the way we battled.”

Pollock said he’s come to expect the kind of performance shown by Schmitt on Thursday after seeing him do it all season long.

“That’s the way he’s been down the stretch for us and really been that way for us all year long,” said Pollock. “He’s a good pitcher and proved it again today. Wish him a better result than this, but it is what it is and give them credit they deserved to win it.”

In the top of the first, the Red Knights stepped to the plate and would end up taking a 1-0 lead that stood until the seventh inning. The run was generated by a leadoff single for Harrison Shibley, who went on to steal second after a pair of strikeouts in the ensuing at-bats.

With two outs, Evan Brown stepped to the plate next and fouled off multiple pitches before singling to center to score Shibley. The Red Knights threatened to score again after a walk and a passed-ball advanced both base runners to second and third, but Schmitt recovered with another strikeout to send the Tigers back to the dugout.

In their first time at the plate, leadoff man Alex Thompson got aboard with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cody Greve. Unfortunately, that would be the closest Thompson would get to home plate as Red Knights starter Blake Mahmood retired the next two Tiger hitters to end the inning.

In the two innings that followed, Schmitt continued to stymie the Red Knight offense and added four more strikeouts to his total. Unfortunately, Mahmood was equal to the task and prevented any opening for the Tigers to generate runs with the score still 1-0.

In need of a spark offensively, Nick Macchio would provide it in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two-out double. Once again, the scoring chance was nullified with Mahmood recovering with a pop fly out to end the scoring threat.

After two more scoreless innings for both teams, the Red Knights stepped to the batter’s box one last time in the top of the seventh and made the most of it with two more runs that would ultimately seal the victory.

The scoring was set in motion by a leadoff single that caused the Tigers to make a pitching change with Kaleb Welavert taking over for Schmitt. Welvaert started off strong by getting two quick outs but ran into some trouble in the next at-bat when a triple scored the Red Knights’ second run of the game. A balk in the ensuing at-bat scored their third and final run to make it 3-0 before Jack Bly took over and recorded the final out.

Down to one last frame to try to and mount a comeback, Nick Macchio stepped up big for the team once more with a solo home run that got the Tigers on the board with one out. The lone run would be the extent of the damage at the plate, however, as Mahmood retired the final two Tiger hitters on strikeouts to secure the 3-1 victory.

The loss knocks the Marshall ballclub out of contention for a state title, but their season will continue today in the consolation bracket with a 10 a.m. matchup against Duluth Denfeld at the University of Northwestern.

Pollock hopes to see the ballclub bounce back in their upcoming contest.

“We just have to rebound,” said Pollock. “A lot of the state’s done and we’re still alive so just take every day one at a time and in every game cherish it.”

Benilde-St. Margaret’s 3, Marshall 1

BSM 100 000 2 – 7 5 0

Marshall 000 000 1 – 1 4 0

HITTING: Marshall (Thompson 1-3; Macchio 2-3, 2B, HR, RBI, R; Mulso 1-3).

PITCHING (IP-R-ER-H-BB-SO): Marshall (Schmitt 6-2-2-4-1-9; Welvaert 0.2-1-1-1-1-0; Bly 0.1-0-0-0-1-0).