Eagles End Twelve-Year Drought, Win Section Baseball Title
Ryan Cunningham | Jun 7, 2018 AT 3:39 pm
Sacred Heart entered the 2018 baseball season having not been to a state tournament in 12 seasons.
That will change next Thursday in Chaska.
The Eagles plated two runs in the bottom of the first, and rode a complete-game, two-hitter by ace Brenden Bethke to capture the Section 8A baseball title 3-1 over the Fosston Greyhounds at Security Insurance Field in Bemidji, MN, Thursday.
Sacred Heart scored their fourth upset of the tournament, entering the post-season as the number-three seed from Section 8A West, and defeat west two-seed Badger-Greenbush-Middle River, west top-seed Ada-Borup/Norman County West, and east top-seed Fosston twice in the tournament.
Bethke struck out 10, while walking three, retiring 10 straight from the first through the fourth innings. He also drove in the game's first run with an RBI double.
Will Rohrich added an RBI single in the first, finishing 1-3. Cullen Rohrich was 1-3, scoring once.
Despite the fantastic performance, Bethke had jams to work out of. The first game as the game opened, as he struggled locating pitches, walking leadoff hitter Brett Sundquist and Treyden Buschee back-to-back, eventually leading the Greyhounds to two runners in scoring position with no outs yet in the game.
Bethke coaxed a lineout from Hunter Kroening, then froze Cole Olson and Joby Buchholz for back-to-back strikeouts to strand the runners.
Sacred Heart then took advantage of their first-inning opportunities. A one-out knock by Cullen Rohrich was followed by Bethke's two-bagger to deep right-center, plating Cullen Rohrich and landing Bethke in scoring position. Will Rohrich sent a rip to right field for the third consecutive Eagle hit, plating Bethke for a 2-0 lead after one.
Bethke cruised through four, and the Eagles tacked on in the fourth, when Evan Szcepanski drew a one-out walk and Sam Gapp singled to right. Szcepanski stumbled around third, but Fosston right fielder Alex Wolfe's throw was cut off when it appeared there would be a play at the plate. Szcepanski scored, edging the lead to 3-0.
Bethke would face one more jam in the fifth. Fosston's Kyle Jacobson led off the inning with a double, moved on to third on a failed pickoff by Eagle catcher Noah Chine, and scored on a wild pitch.
Sundquist kept the inning alive for Fosston with a single up the middle, and Buschee walked, putting the tying runs on base, but Kroening flew out to center to end the threat with the Eagles leading 3-1.
Sundquist kept the Greyhounds close retiring the last seven men he faced in order, finishing six innings of five-hit baseball, striking out five.
Bethke regained his form in the final two innings to close retiring the last seven with four strikeouts, and the Eagles claimed the 3-1 title victory, negating the need for a second title game, as the Eagles finished a perfect 5-0 in the section tournament.
Sacred Heart will travel to Chaska, MN, Thursday, June 14th for their state tournament appearance.