June 16, 2018 08:48 PM
No. 2 seed Maple Lake (25-2) concluded its 2018 season on a 17-game win streak with an 8-4 win over No. 1 Marshall School, Duluth (23-5) in the MSHSL Class AA Baseball Tournament championship game at Target Field on Saturday evening. The game started four hours and 13 minutes late due to a rain delay that pushed back the start of the state championship games earlier in the day.
The Irish secured the fourth MSHSL championship of the 2017-18 academic year for the school with the baseball team joining volleyball, softball and Tru Team track & field.
The baseball championship is the first for Maple Lake High School in its third state appearance, topping last year’s program best third place finish.
After falling behind 3-1 to the Hilltoppers after two innings, the Irish rallied with a four run third and a three run fourth for an 8-3 lead.
Championship starting pitcher Grant Mergen, a senior, hit the go-ahead two-run single to right center in the third inning and went 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs out of the cleanup spot.
He also went the distance on the hill, allowing four runs (two earned) with five strikeouts across seven innings.
Centerfielder Ben Goelz, a junior, went 3-for-3 with a run, an RBI and a stolen base from the leadoff spot and second hitter Cole Trager, a senior shortstop, was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.
The Hilltoppers built the early lead with a run in the first on junior third baseman Ben Pedersen’s two-out RBI single up the middle. They added two more unearned runs in the second inning before Mergen settled in and retired eight in a row in the middle innings.
Hilltopper leadoff hitter Maddux Baggs, a junior middle infielder, went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs while second hitter Peter Hansen, a junior, also went 2-for-3 with a double and sacrifice bunt.
After starting the game at shortstop, Hansen relieved junior starting pitcher Carter Sullivan in the third inning and pitched the final five frames. Hansen allowed three runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in a strong relief effort.
Updated: June 16, 2018 08:48 PM
Created: June 16, 2018 08:45 PM
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