St. Thomas Academy's Liam Brennan pitched three innings allowing zero runs before leaving the game. The Cadets beat the Red Knights at home 6-0 Saturday afternoon. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
Based on the last time they met, St. Thomas Academy and Benilde-St. Margaret’s are the cream of the crop in Class 3A. The Cadets defeated the Red Knights in that matchup 1-0 to claim the 2019 state championship.
But that was nearly two years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancelation of the entire 2020 season statewide, disallowing the Cadets from taking their season-long victory lap.
The rosters from both teams have had a lot of turnover since that championship finale at Target Field, but what remained the same on Saturday afternoon was St. Thomas Academy blanking Benilde-St. Margaret’s, as the Cadets rolled to a 6-0 victory in Mendota Heights.
It was the first victory for head coach Jon Engeswick. He replaced Matt Kelly, who is now an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Engeswick inherited a roster stuffed with upperclassmen, but they’re far from experienced.
“The big thing is we’ve got 15 seniors. Of those 15, 13 had not played in a varsity game" Engeswick said. “They didn’t have a season last year so we didn’t know what we’ve got. The first game, two days ago against Tartan, they were super nervous. Today, against a really good opponent like Benilde, they came out just nice and relaxed and did what they could. I think each guy kind of picked up each other.”
Tartan beat St. Thomas Academy 6-5 in Thursday’s season opener.
The Cadets' Angelo Pacyga slides safe into third base Saturday afternoon during St. Thomas Academy's 6-0 defeat of Benilde-St. Margaret's in a rematch of the 2019 Class 3A state title game. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner SportsEngine
In a rematch of the 2019 Class 3A state title game, it was St. Thomas Academy that came out with a win once again against Benilde-St. Margaret’s. St. Thomas Academy held the Red Knights without a hit until the sixth inning in Mendota Heights on Saturday afternoon and went on to win 6-0.
Pitcher Liam Brennan started for St. Thomas Academy, ranked No. 2 in the Class 3A coaches’ poll. He struck out seven batters and walked four in three innings of work.
Brennan got run support right away, as the Cadets scored an unearned run in the first inning and they plated another two runs an inning later. Jacob Zenner’s groundout drove in Max Bordelon, who tripled. Joe Middleton followed with a single to score Jordan Young.
Young and Bordelon had the game’s only multi-hit efforts. Young went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and two runs scored from the No. 9 spot in the lineup.
The Cadets’ Charlie Steel picked up where Brennan left off on the mound, retiring the side in the fourth and fifth innings. He surrendered the No. 3-3A Red Knights’ first hit of the game with one out on a liner to right field by Will Feyereisn.
Steel went three innings with one hit, no walks allowed and two strikeouts. Mike Miller pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh for St. Thomas Academy (1-1, 0-1).
Matthew Evans took the loss for Benilde-St. Margaret’s (1-1, 1-0). He pitched 4 2/3 innings with six hits, five earned runs and six runs allowed with three walks and two strikeouts. Owen Plourde pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for the Red Knights, dealing two hits, a walk, and no runs or strikeouts.
Benilde-St. Margaret's pitcher Matthew Evans took the loss for the Red Knights in a 6-0 defeat to St. Thomas Academy Saturday afternoon. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
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