It had been all about offense for Eden Prairie during its run in the Class 4A state tournament. So, naturally, it was pitcher who took center stage for the Eagles in their 5-1 victory over Forest Lake in the championship game.
Pitching on three days rest after maxing out his pitch count in the quarterfinals, Zigan tossed a gem Monday at Target Field, giving up just three hits and one unearned run while striking out 11.
“The word I came up with is warrior,” Eden Prairie coach John Buteyn said of Zigan’s outing. “He’s always been big-game pitcher. I had no doubt he’d come out and give it his best. I didn’t plan on him dominating to the level he did.”
Zigan’s effort on the mount was necessary as Eden Prairie (18-9), unseeded in the tournament, took awhile to get its offense revved up. In the first three innings the Eagles were befuddled by Forest Lake starter Cam Kline. They managed two hits in the first inning, but a strikeout-pickoff double-play ended that threat. Kline then found a groove, striking out the next six Eden Prairie hitters.
They woke up in the fourth. After an error put the leadoff runner on base, Kline struggled to locate the strike zone, walking two batters to load the bases. Catcher Ryan Wrobleski stepped up and clubbed a ground-rule double into the alley in left center, scoring two. Two batters later, Matt Dolan laced a two-run single to center, giving Eden Prairie a 4-1 lead.
“It was time that we needed a breakout, just to put up one run,” Wrobleski said. “If we put up one, we can put up five.”
Forest Lake, which had put up solid offensive numbers of their own in tournament play, struggled to make sense of Zigan. The senior righthander worked ahead in the count most of the night and kept the Rangers off-balance, locating the ball exactly where needed it.
“You could tell he was locked in and ready to go,” Wrobleski said. “That was the best outing I’ve seen him pitch.”
The mild-mannered Zigan said that, despite his lengthy previous outing, he felt like he got stronger at the game went on. He closed out the game by striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I felt like that last strike I threw was probably one of the hardest balls I threw all night,” Zigan said. “I felt great. My arm had enough juice, even on three days rest.”
Forest Lake coach Tal Gravelle was impressed by Zigan’s efforts.
“Their pitcher was outstanding,” Gravelle said. “He was hitting his spots, living on the outside corner. Just a very, very solid pitcher.”
Buteyn played on the Eagles 2004 state championship team. Both were memorable experiences, he said, but this one is all about the players.
“I’m so happy for these guys,” Buteyn said. “They throw the pitches, they hit the pitches, they field the balls. It’s different great experience. It’s fun to share it with other people.”
Its bats stymied for three innings, Eden Prairie (18-9) came alive in the fourth inning, scoring four times to take control of the game and defeat Forest Lake 5-1 in the Class 4A championship game.
Ryan Wrobleski and Matt Dolan each delivered two-run base hits in the decisive inning.
Starter Jack Zigan held Forest Lake in check, pitching a complete game and allowing just three hits and one unearned run for his second victory of the tournament.
Eden Prairie won its third state championship, adding to titles won in 2004 and 2010.
Cam Kline started and pitched six innings for Forest Lake, giving up seven hits and five runs while striking out 12.
Check back later for more on the game.