East Ridge joined by first-timers New Prague, Esko, Fosston as State Baseball champs
CLASS 4A – East Ridge 1, Rosemount 0
In the final contest of the Minnesota State High School League’s Prep Championship, it came down to a game of inches.
Riley Schwellenbach’s RBI double in the top of the seventh inning was the big spark No. 2 East Ridge needed to capture a dramatic 1-0 victory over top-seeded Rosemount in the Class AAAA championship game on Friday, June 16 at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul. It was the second big-school baseball championship for the Woodbury-based school.
Schwellenbach, a senior center fielder, looped a fly ball with two outs that barely eluded two Rosemount outfielders that allowed East Ridge to score the game’s coveted first run of the game and the run that would pave the way to an upset victory.
Joseph Merchlewitz, the Raptors’ designated hitter, opened the seventh with a single. Griffin Johnston, East Ridge’s Senior Class President, was inserted as a pinch-runner for Merchelewitz. The next two East Ride batters bunted, which moved Johnston to third. Schwellenbach then lifted his fly ball to short right center to produce the only run the Raptors would need.
Maxwell Arlich, a junior lefthander that had kept Rosemount’s powerful attack at bay throughout, promptly retired the Irish in order to secure East Ridge’s second big-school title since 2019. The southpaw was in control the entire game, throwing 58 strikes and did not allow a Rosemount runner to get as far as second base. Carter Hegarty and Carson Blume had the two singles for the Irish. He walked two and struck out seven in a briskly-played game that lasted just 1 hour, 27 minutes.
It was the first 1-0 championship game among the large schools since 2012 when Eastview edged Bemidji by the same score.
The Raptors (20-8) threatened to score two other times before they scored their lone run. In the fifth inning, a single, a walk and a passed ball moved runners to second and third with two out. But Irish hurler Liam Bystol induced Schwellenback to ground out to end the threat. In the next inning, an error and a single placed runners on first and third with two out. Bystol retired Will Preimesberger on a fly ball to end the inning.
Bystol was solid as well in taking the hard-luck loss, allowing seven hits and striking out three batters in a 90-pitch effort.
It was the second state baseball crown for East Ridge, who defeated New Prague for the 2019 AAAA crown. Rosemount (19-7), which came off the deck with a 10-run sixth inning to defeat Edina in the semifinals, was playing in its 10th state baseball tournament but its first since 2008. It marked the second time the Irish had advanced to the title game. In 1995, they finished second to Brainerd for the Class AA crown.
CLASS 3A – New Prague 5, Mahtomedi 3
Senior Nolan Eischens excelled at the plate and on the mound to in leading top-seeded New Prague to its first Minnesota State High School League Baseball Championship following a 5-3 victory over No. 3 victory over Mahtomedi in the Class AAA title game on Friday, June 16 at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul. The Trojans captured their historic first crown by finishing the season with 15 consecutive victories.
But ending the season on that spree was not without its difficulties. Mahtomedi was knocking on the door by putting the tying run at the plate in each of the last two innings, but Eischens, a senior righthander, worked his way out of trouble both times.
New Prague came out swinging.
With one out, Kyle Carlberg walked and raced home when Eischens doubled to left field. The Zephrys responded just as quickly in the second. Joshua Danna, the starting pitcher, singled, moved up on a pair of wild pitches and came home when Carter Schmidtz singled to left field.
In the fourth, New Prague, the Class AAA favorite, regained the lead for good. With one out, Jake Lundquist, a senior catcher, singled. Danna walked the next two batters and was replaced by junior Max Strecker. The first batter he faced was Nick Giesen, who was the eventual winning pitcher. Giesen walked to force in a run and give New Prague a 2-1 advantage.
In the fifth, a walk, a hit batter and error loaded the bases for New Prague with one out. Eischens then singled sharply to left to score two runs. Lundquist’s single plated a third and the Trojans had a seemingly safe 5-1 lead.
But Mahtomedi had other ideas. With two out and two runners on in the sixth inning, right fielder Jacob Johnson doubled to deep right center to score a pair of runs and cut the lead to 5-3. At this point, Giesen gave way to Eischens, who induced Samuel Garry to tap to the pitcher to end the threat.
In the seventh, with one out, Mahtomedi second baseman Seth Nelson was safe on an error. Danna popped out to third for the second out. Strecker then set a grounder to the right side that leaked through but Nelson made contact with the fielder and was called out on interference to end the game.
It was just the third time the Trojans, who finished the season with a 23-3 won-loss mark, had appeared in the state tournament. In 2019, they finished second to East Ridge in the Class AAA title game. Mahtomedi, (19-7), which allowed just two runs in its first two wins, was appearing in its third championship game and eighth overall appearance in the last 10 years. The Zephyrs won the 2021 Class AA championship and placed second in 2016.
CLASS 2A – Esko 9, Perham 0
The 2023 baseball season started late for Esko High School. Its first game – a 27-0 win over Barnum – was played on April 25. As it turned out, it set the tone for a great season that ended with the school’s first ever state baseball championship, a 9-0 victory over Perham in the Class AA title game at CHS Field on Friday, June 16.
Every starter had at least one hit for the hard-hitting Eskomos (27-1), who blew a tight game open with a five-run fifth inning. Cale Haugen, a senior catcher, winning pitcher Dylan Marciulionis and junior outfielder Finn Furcht had two apiece for the Eskomos, who finished with a dozen for the game – five of which went for extra bases. Perham starter Austin Schmelz threw the first 4 2/3 innings and took the loss.
Esko took the early lead with an unearned run plated by Connor Pearce’s RBI single. Nine batters came to the plate in the fateful fifth frame. Marciulionis led off with a single. Owen Wilson ran for him and came home when Sam Haugen singled to center field. After Ty Christensen walked, Haugen drilled a triple near the 402 mark in left center field. Two hits and a sacrifice fly produced two runs to make it 6-0. The next inning, Haugen drove in with a ground out and Isaak Sertich sent home a other with a ringing double to right field. Furcht capped the scoring with a solo home run to left field in the seventh inning.
Marcioulionis worked out of a first inning jam, leaving runners on first and third base. After that, he was in complete control, allowing only two more runners to reach base. He retired the last seven batters in a row in tossing his two-hit shutout. The junior right-hander walked one, hit one and struck out nine, using just 98 pitches to earn the victory.
Esko, the No. 1 seed, scored in double digits 15 times prior to the state tournament. The nine runs scored in the title game was one more than they achieved in their first two wins in the state tournament. But their pitching was solid, allowing just two runs in three games. They also flashed some serious leather as both third baseman Isaak Sertich and second baseman Pearce came up with excellent stops on ground balls for outs.
For the Yellowjackets, it was a tough end to a Cinderella tale. The unseeded Yellowjackets (24-4) took out No. 3 Foley and No. 2 Fairmont to advance to their second title game appearance in school history. Perham fell to Kasson-Mantorville in the Class AA title game in 2013.
CLASS 1A – Fosston 3, Lyle/Pacelli 2
With a baseball championship on the line, it got a little tense for the Fosston High School baseball team on Friday, June 16.
But the Greyhounds managed to find a way out of trouble in the form of a bases loaded jam to claim its first Minnesota State High School League baseball championship with a 3-2 victory over Lyle/Pacelli in the Class A championship game at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul. Junior right-hander Hudson Boushee scattered four hits over the first six innings to earn the win while older brother, Carsen, picked up the save by working the seventh inning.
Hudson Boushee, who allowed just four hits and struck out half a dozen batters, was replaced by Carsen because he had thrown 114 pitches. The Athletics promptly loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Jack Klingfus and Landon Meyer and a Trey Anderson walk. After Mac Nelson struck out, VaDeer walked to force in a run. Carsen Boushee then fanned Truckenmiller and induced Nelson to ground out to first base to end the game.
The Greyhounds (23-4) needed to win their last three games to even make the state tournament field.
After scoring 18 runs in their first two games, the bats were held to five hits by Lyle/Pacelli senior Mac Nelson. Fosston pushed across an unearned run in the second inning and upped the margin to 2-0 in the fourth frame when Breckin Levin doubled and eventually scored on Zach Theis’ sacrifice fly. The Athletics, who left the bases loaded in the fourth inning, cut the lead in half in the sixth. Hunter VaDeer led off with his second single of the game. Jacob Truckenmiller moved him to third on a single and Isaac Nelson’s sacrifice fly made it 2-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Carsen Boushee led off with a walk and came home for what proved to be the winning run when Aaron Norland doubled into the right center field alley.
It was just the third time in school history the Greyhounds had even made the state tournament. Their previous best finish was a fourth-place standing in 2017. The Athletics (24-2), who won 15 games in a row prior to the title game, played in their first state tournament as a merged entity.
All recaps are courtesy of the Minnesota State High School League