Blaine fielders, from left, Seth Miller, Mike Gottschalk, Connor Melton, Jake Dorff, Tony Strand and Jon Coello run off the field after the Bengals completed a 5-0 victory at Champlin Park. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Blaine pitcher Logan McDonald comes off the mound after getting Champlin Park's Brady Higgins to ground out to end the game. McDonald allowed just one hit. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Pressure situations don't rattle Blaine senior Logan McDonald.
"That's what you play for in this game," said McDonald, who pitched his best when it mattered the most in the Bengals' 5-0 victory at Champlin Park on Wednesday afternoon — a win that secured Blaine's second consecutive Northwest Suburban Conference championship. "You just have to be yourself in those situations and hope for the best."
Blaine pinch runner Bryce Nelson slid safely into second ahead of the throw to Champlin Park shortstop Nick Bauer. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
This spring's inclement weather turned what would have been an interesting start-of-season clash between Northwest Suburban Conference titans into a nail-biting winner-take-all end-of-season scrum.
And, for the second year in a row, Champlin Park watched the conference championship slip to Blaine with a loss on its home field.
The Rebels' 11-inning loss to Osseo last spring gave the championship to Blaine. On Wednesday afternoon, the Bengals grabbed the conference title with a 5-0 victory at Champlin Park. The game was originally scheduled for April 12 but was moved after snow erased the first few weeks of the season.
Logan McDonald pitched seven innings, striking out four, walking two and allowing just one sixth-inning double, for his fourth victory of the season. McDonald also scored the game's only run through six innings after reaching base on a Champlin Park error in the second inning.
Blaine, with one regular season game remaining -- Thursday at home against Sartell-St. Stephen -- closed the conference schedule with an 11-2 record. The Bengals won their ninth consecutive game to improve to 16-3 overall.
Champlin Park, which had an opportunity to wrap up a share of the conference crown, fell to 9-4 in the league and 10-9 overall.
Champlin Park starting pitcher Max Loven kept the hard-hitting Bengals under control until he ran out of pitches with two out in the sixth inning. The North Dakota State commit struck out seven, walked three and allowed just an unearned run in the second before he reached his pitch limit. Pitchers are allowed just 105 pitches over three days in Minnesota high school baseball.
Blaine, which had outscored opponents 67-10 in the eight games before Wednesday, scored four runs in the top of the seventh off Champlin Park reliever Andrew Stifter. Jack Haring walked and went to second on a sacrifice, and Mike Gottschalk, Jake Dorff and Connor Melton followed with singles. Two outs later, Joey Messier singled to drive in the final run.
Noah Christianson's leadoff double in the sixth inning was Champlin Park's only hit.
Champlin Park's Max Loven grounds out in the seventh inning. Loven was the Rebels' starting pitcher and allowed just one unearned run over 5 2/3 innings. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine