Park of Cottage Grove's Sam Janski struck out five batters and had four RBIs in the second game of the Class 4A, Section 3 championship in Burnsville. The Wolfpack defeated the Wildcats twice, 5-0 and 9-3. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
History was waiting to be written at Wednesday’s Class 4A, Section 3 championship.
Second-seeded Eagan was seeking its first state tournament appearance since 2009. The Wildcats also faced the path of least resistance, advancing through the winners’ bracket to get two games, if needed, to put away No. 3 seed Park of Cottage Grove at Alimagnet Park in Burnsville.
Park of Cottage Grove, meanwhile, lost 15-0 to Eagan in section play on June 2, relegating the Wolfpack to the losers’ bracket to get a chance to end a state tournament drought dating to 1993. The Wolfpack beat Eagan 5-0 in Wednesday's first game and 9-3 in the nightcap to seal a Class 4A state tourney berth.
“It means a great deal to us, our community, our school, our program,” said Wolfpack coach John McGowan, who’s in his 10th year at the helm. “We’ve been working hard, and just all around trying to get our program back to where it was in the past and our kids are having fun doing it."
Park of Cottage Grove's Will Smoot applies the tag to catch Eagan’s Liam Martin on a pickoff play early in Game 1 of the Class 4A, Section 3 final. The Wolfpack defeated the Wildcats 5-0 to force a second game. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Park of Cottage Grove is headed to the state tournament for the first time since 1993.
The third-seeded Wolfpack emerged from the Class 4A, Section 3 losers’ bracket by defeating No. 2 seed Eagan 9-3 Wednesday evening at Alimagnet Park in Burnsville. The Wolfpack beat the Wildcats 5-0 earlier in the day to set up the big finale.
Sam Janski was the winning pitcher in the nightcap. He threw 6 2/3 innings and he also impressed at the plate, hitting 3-for-4 with two doubles and four runs batted in.
Ryan Danich took the loss for the Wildcats in five-plus innings.
A scoreless game through four innings gave way to a more action-packed ending.
Eagan’s first run of the day against Park of Cottage Grove (20-7) came on a two-out single by Matt Hage in the top of the fifth inning. The lead was short-lived, however, as Ben Johnson singled in a run in the fifth to tie it for the Wolfpack. Janski added a RBI single to put his team ahead 2-1.
Eagan (17-8) tied it at 2 on a Griffin Fenske single in the sixth but Park of Cottage Grove had the answer with seven runs in the bottom half of the inning. Tessman had a RBI double, Micah Runion walked and Johnson was hit by a pitch to each bring in a run.
Janski added a three-run double and Clayton Beaurline had a RBI single to expand the lead to 9-2.
Sam Schachtman hit a pinch hit solo home run for Eagan in the seventh. He was one of seven Wildcats with one hit.
Park of Cottage Grove extended its season, at least another couple of hours.
Needing to win twice in a row Wednesday to avoid elimination and claim this year’s Class 4A, Section 3 championship, third-seeded Park of Cottage Grove defeated No. 2 seed Eagan 5-0 in Game 1 at Alimagnet Park in Burnsville.
Wolfpack pitcher Conor Mestemacher, who was the losing pitcher when Eagan beat the Wolfpack 15-0 in five innings in the second round of the section playoffs on June 2, went the distance on the mound Wednesday. The righthander allowed two hits and one walk with three strikeouts.
Samuel Janski and Jackson Tessman each went 2-for-4, leading Park of Cottage Grove (19-7) at the plate. Both had a double and Tessman drove in a run. Teammate Jackson Weidner added a solo home run.
Lincoln Berry, who was the winning pitcher in the teams’ previous meeting, took the loss for the Wildcats (17-7). The pitcher allowed seven hits, a walk, hit two batters and struck out six batters in seven innings. Berry singled and stole a base.
Charlie Steffen also hit a single and stole a base for Eagan, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped Wednesday.
The winner of Game 2 Wednesday evening gets a berth in next week’s Class 4A state tournament.
Eagan’s Sam Schachtman (27) arrives at home plate after hitting a home run in the second game of the Class 4A, Section 3 Championship. The Wildcats were eliminated after losing twice to the Wolfpack, 5-0 and 9-3. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
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