Hours before Minnehaha Academy defeated Pierz 6-4 in the Class 2A baseball state title game, Bennett Theisen walked onto Target Field and told teammate Noah Dehne how much more comfortable he felt for this championship game.
A year ago, when they were both freshmen at Minnehaha Academy, Theisen didn’t get in the championship game against Belle Plaine. Dehne was hitless in the team’s 5-1 victory.
Things were far different Monday, when the two friends helped lead their team to the championship.
“I knew something was on our side,” said Dehne, who had two hits and drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh.
His single to right-centerfield scored Simon Huyck from second to give Minnehaha a 5-4 lead. Alex Evenson later doubled to score Dehne.
Minnehaha Academy (26-2) jumped out to a 4-0 lead, scoring two runs each in the second and third innings. Each burst include a triple. The first, by John Goth, knocked in the Redhawks’ first run, and he eventually scored. Dehne tripled in the third and later scored their third run on an error.
Pierz (26-3) loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning. After starter Brock Brumley allowed a run and got one batter out, Theisen fielded a hard-hit chopper, stepped on third and threw to first for a double play that ended the inning.
“I’ve had harder balls hit toward me,” Theisen said. “I was ready for it.”
Theisen was also ready when he came on in relief for Brumley in the fifth inning with no outs and two runners in scoring position. Pierz’s Luke Girtz singled off him to score the two runners, but that was all the Pioneers’ offense mustered against Theisen.
Of the nine outs the Minnehaha closer recorded, seven were strikeouts. Every Pierz batter who got on base against Theisen was ultimately left stranded.
The Redhawks have played in the past three state title games, and Glenn said his team’s experience helped it respond to Pierz’ late push. He mentioned his 12 seniors, including Goth, Evenson and Alex Jordan — all of whom played well during the state tournament.
“We’ve had some bad innings,” coach Scott Glenn said. “We always find a way to answer back.”
Minnehaha Academy defeated Pierz 6-4 at Target Field on Monday to win its second consecutive Class 2A baseball title.
The go-ahead run came with the score tied 4-4 in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, the Redhawks' Simon Huyck hit a single to right field that bounced off first base, and advanced to second on a fielding error. The next batter, leadoff hitter Noah Dehne, who reached base three times, singled to score Huyck.
Minnehaha Academy scored two runs in the second to take 2-0 lead. The first scored on a triple by first baseman John Goth. He later scored on a sacrifice fly.
Dehne tripled with one out in the third and scored as the Redhawks built a 4-0 lead.
Pierz built its first scoring threat in the fourth inning, loading the bases with no outs. Minnehaha starter Brock Brumley escaped after allowing one run when a hard-hit ball to third base turned into a 5-3 double play that ended the inning.
An inning later, though, a double from Pierz's Lane Girtz drove in two runs and force Brumley out of the game. Girtz scored, too, tying the game.
The game remained tied until the seventh. Dehne’s single that scored Huyck was followed by a one-run double from Alex Evenson.
Check back later for more on the game.