Maple Lake players celebrated after their 8-4 victory over Duluth Marshall to win the the Class 2A championship Saturday at Target Field. Photo: AARON LAVINSKY • firstname.lastname@example.org
Technically, Maple Lake won its first baseball state championship, defeating Duluth Marshall 8-4 in the Class 2A final Saturday at Target Field.
Truthfully, the result may have been assured in two days earlier. Friday’s victory in the semifinals played a role, too.
Maple Lake’s strong early offensive showing in Thursday’s quarterfinals allowed ace Grant Mergen, who pitched only three innings, to start again Saturday. He responded with one of his strongest outings of the season, pitching a complete game and holding the Hilltoppers to four runs and eight hits while striking out five.
“If we would have had scripted this on paper, it fell exactly as we would have scripted it,” Maple Lake coach Brooks Marquardt said. “I don’t think Grant has a complete game this year. He always gets a lot of strikeouts and that adds to his pitch count.”