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Never-say-die Minnetonka claws, walks its way into 4A championship

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 06/15/18, 2:15PM CDT


The Skippers, down 5-0 early against St. Michael-Albertville, scored twice in the bottom of the seventh for a 7-6 victory, the final run scoring on a bases-loaded walk.

Minnetonka's J.J. Schectmann (18) scores the winning run after teammate Jack Hanson (20), front left, drew a bases-loaded walk, giving Minnetonka a 7-6 win over St. Michael-Albertville. Photo: DAVID JOLES • david.joles@startribune.com

Of myriad ways to win a baseball game, Minnetonka’s 7-6 walk-off victory over St. Michael-Albertville was one of the least likely.

The Skippers fell behind 5-0 in the second inning Friday at CHS Field, then spent the rest of the game piecing together pitching, defense and offense. They finally rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in improbable fashion.

In between there were home runs, unearned runs, bunts and bloops, five errors by St. Michael-Albertville and five pitchers for Minnetonka. The game-winning runs came courtesy of a push-bunt by Cameron Smrekar, who nudged the ball into an undefended gap in the infield to score Nick Thimsen.

“We work on that in practice every day,” said Smrekar of his unusual bunt. “It’s actually the third time we’ve used it this year.”

First report

Minnetonka spotted St. Michael-Albertville a five-run lead, battled back to tie, fell behind again, then pushed across two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to advance to the Class 4A championship game Saturday with a 7-6 victory.

Nick Thimsen led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and went to third on a sacrifice bunt that was compounded by the Knights' fifth error of the game. He scored on a perfectly placed bunt by Cameron Smreker.

Andy Andresen, one of the heroes of Minnetonka’s come-from-behind victory in Thursday’s quarterfinals, walked with the bases loaded to force in the game-winning run.

The Skippers (22-4) used five pitchers in the game at CHS Field.

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