Maple Grove pitcher Jacob Schwager is surrounded by his teammates as they celebrated their win over Stillwater in the Class 3A semifinals in St. Paul. Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune
For Maple Grove, the magic continues. The team with the undefeated regular season and a résumé full of impressive wins added the biggest victory yet in jumping out to a quick lead and overcoming the Ponies to head to the Crimson’s second championship game.
“I don’t really know if words could describe it right now,” Maple Grove junior Brady Jacobs said. “I’ve never been on a team that’s made it to a championship like this.”
The Crimson did what it does best, getting on the board early when Roman Collins scored Logan Hershey in the first inning.
“That’s something we really emphasize,” Jacobs said. “It really helps to get on top, and it just helps break down the game.”
Maple Grove added two in the third when Stillwater starter Joe Zorn threw two wild pitches and had a throwing error to score one and set up a sacrifice fly.
But after the third inning, Zorn settled down, laid off his fastball in favor of more offspeed pitches and stifled the Crimson offense, facing only one batter over the minimum over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“It’s not what we wanted, I think we just put it on cruise control a little bit,” Jacobs said.
Added Maple Grove coach Darby Carlson: “I think their pitcher got a lot tougher. We’re probably fortunate that we got a few runs early.”
The Ponies went down in order for three of the final four innings before giving up one last run to Maple Grove in the seventh.
“It was very uncharacteristic,” Stillwater coach Mike Parker said of the slow offense and errors. “[Maple Grove] is a very good hitting team that Zorn kind of kept under control, and then we gave them stuff. It’s too bad that we couldn’t have been a little more competitive.”