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Minnehaha Academy throttles New Life Academy to return to the Class 2A state tournament

By Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine, 06/07/18, 1:30PM CDT

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Despite starting in a 1-0 rut, the Redhawks piled on the runs and are going to their fourth consecutive tourney.

Outfielder Conor Johnson (13) leaps into the celebratory pile after Minnehaha Academy wrapped up its 9-1 victory over New Life Academy in the Class 2A, Section 4 championship and earned its fourth consecutive state tournament berth. Photo by Mark Hvidsten

Outfielder Conor Johnson (13) leaps into the celebratory pile after Minnehaha Academy wrapped up its 9-1 victory over New Life Academy in the Class 2A, Section 4 championship and earned its fourth consecutive state tournament berth. Photo by Mark Hvidsten

Bennett Theisen (20) passes New Life Academy catcher Riley Grohn with a third-inning run. Theisen doubled, singled, walked twice and pitched a complete game for Minnehaha Academy. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

Bennett Theisen (20) passes New Life Academy catcher Riley Grohn with a third-inning run. Theisen doubled, singled, walked twice and pitched a complete game for Minnehaha Academy. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

To say that Minnehaha Academy baseball coach Scott Glenn has great confidence in the skills and determination of junior pitcher Bennett Theisen is an understatement. But even Glenn’s confidence wavered as he sent a relief pitcher to the bullpen with the bases loaded and just one out in the top of the first inning of Thursday’s Class 2A, Section 4 championship game against New Life Academy.

New Life Academy baserunner Mark Morrison looks back toward first base after being forced out at second by Dylan Kiratli. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

New Life Academy baserunner Mark Morrison looks back toward first base after being forced out at second by Dylan Kiratli. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

First Report

Junior Bennett Theisen survived a 40-pitch first inning and guided Minnehaha Academy to a 9-1 victory over New Life Academy in the Class 2A, Section 4 championship game and into the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

Theisen walked three batters and threw two balls past catcher Nick Wong, allowing New Life Academy to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. He struck out No. 6 hitter Peter Bouillon and Cooper Amon to end the inning and minimize the damage.

The Redhawks, two-time defending Class AA state champions, had rolled through the Section 2 tournament, winning five games by a combined score of 55-3. Facing a 1-0 deficit, they got their bats going again.

Minnehaha Academy responded with a Theisen single, Wong drove in a run with a fielder's choice ground ball and Roddy MacDonald walked with the bases loaded to give the Redhawks a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.

MacDonald, a first-year starter with the Redhawks, walked twice, singled twice and drove in four runs. Besides pitching a nine-strikeout complete game, Theisen singled, doubled, walked twice, scored twice and drove in a run. Theisen walked four and surrendered three hits. He had just two pitches left on his count when he picked off an Eagles baserunner at first to end the game.

Colin Quirk walked in the first, advanced to second on Riley Grohn's single and scored on a couple of passed balls for New Life, which was playing in its fifth consecutive section championship game -- the third against Minnehaha Academy after  winning the 2015 Class 1A state championship.

The Redhawks take a 19-2 record into the state tournament. The Eagles close the season at 16-6.

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