Hill-Murray's Jack Schwartz (18) scored one of the Pioneers' four fourth-inning runs in a Class 3A, Section 4 championship victory Thursday over DeLaSalle. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Teammates congratulate Hill-Murray's Owen Quast (21) after he scored in the Pioneers' four-run fourth. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
All day, from early afternoon warm-ups to the final innings of Thursday night’s do-or-die section final doubleheader at CHS Field in St. Paul, Hill-Murray coach Charlie Cicalello felt a collective confidence radiate from his Pioneers’ squad.
Tasked with facing for a third time a DeLaSalle team that is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A's Star Tribune metro rankings from May 25, and having twice faltered against the Islanders — as recently as Monday night 6-3 in the Class 3A, Section 4 tournament — Cicalello saw that bit of history would not be enough to deter his group.
Hill-Murray's Mitch Gutknecht threw a one-hitter, striking out six, as the Pioneers beat DeLaSalle 5-0 in the first game of the Class 3A, Section 4 championship. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Hill-Murray battled through two games Thursday to avoid shutting down operations for the summer.
Coming off a 5-0 victory in Game 1 — its first in three tries this season against DeLaSalle — the Pioneers simply kept things going.
The reward for a 4-0 Game 2 win in the Class 3A, Section 4 final is a spot in next week’s state tournament, the Pioneers’ first trip since 2012.
After junior left-hander Mitch Gutknecht threw a seven-inning, one-hit shutout in Game 1 that allowed the Pioneers (14-7) to play another, Hill-Murray took the reins again with a big fourth inning in Game 2 that resulted in four runs on five hits.
Coming into Thursday night, Hill-Murray had fallen twice to the Islanders (15-5-1), ranked No. 2 in the Star Tribune metro area Class 3A rankings. But it all changed quickly in the opener — and it carried into the nightcap.
In the second game, No. 7-3A Hill-Murray starter Matt Forrest threw four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and two walks. Cam Quinlan came in to close the game.
Benton Scott took the loss on the mound for DeLaSalle in Game 2. Scott cruised through the first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth, where he allowed four earned runs on five hits in the frame.
Hill-Murray baserunner David Gallagher beat the tag of DeLaSalle catcher Luke Timmerman to score the game's first run. Hill-Murray went on to a 5-0 victory in the first game of the Class 3A, Section 4 championship. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
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