Mahtomedi senior pitcher Austin Jerylo thrives in pressure situations.
The Zephyrs' closer made a 3-2 lead stand up against Grand Rapids by recording the final three outs with the tying run on third base and no outs in the top of the seventh inning in the Class 3A quarterfinals Thursday at Siebert Field.
"I'm ready to pitch whenever they call my number," Jerylo said. "I play best under pressure. It brings out the best in me and the team."
Grand Rapids (10-16) put a scare in the top seed when senior pinch-hitter Mike Heitkamp delivered a two-run double down the left field line with no outs in the final frame, pulling the Thunderhawks within one run. He advanced to third on a throwing error on the play.
The Zephyrs immediately turned to Jerylo to relieve sophomore starter Leo Bustos.
"I have a lot of faith in Austin," Zephyrs senior catcher Charlie Bartholomew said. "He's a bulldog with a hate-to-lose attitude."
Jerylo struck out the first batter he faced before getting freshman Kodi Miller to hit a high hopper to third. Sophomore Blake Hogan threw out Heitkamp at the plate, thanks to Bartholomew's perfectly executed scoop on the bounced throw. Jerylo got the final out on another ground ball to third.
"Being on turf made it a lot easier," Bartholomew said. "It was probably easier than it looked. It bounced right into the glove."
Mahtomedi (18-4) took a 2-0 lead with three consecutive hits with two outs in the third inning. No. 9 hitter senior Carter Shook got everything started with a double to right-center field.
Senior leadoff hitter Jamie Berg followed with a run-scoring single up the middle while Bartholomew scored Berg with a double that fell in left-center field.
Senior Henry Laue made it 3-0 with an inside-the-park home run in the next inning. His fly ball to left field was never picked up off the bat by the outfielder before being retrieved on the warning track.
The Zephyrs, appearing in their fifth consecutive state tournament, finished sixth a year ago. Their best finish was as runner-up in 2016.
"We came back with one intention," Jerylo said. "We have one goal in mind."
New Ulm 5, South St. Paul 4: New Ulm senior Hunter Ranweiler celebrated his birthday with a jarring slide.
Ranweiler scored on junior Jaden Domeier's one-out shallow sacrifice fly to right field after knocking the ball out of the catcher's glove in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving New Ulm the victory over South St. Paul. New Ulm will face Rocori in the semifinals.
"I didn't get to the plate at first, but the catcher didn't hang on to the ball and I was able to get to the plate the second time," said Ranweiler, sporting an ice pack on his right ankle from the collision. "I thought the ball was hit a lot farther at first."
Domeier was just looking to make contact after falling behind in the count 0-2. He fouled off a couple of pitches before putting one in play.
"I wanted to put the ball in play, and put pressure on the defense," Domeier said. "I was just trying to make something happen."
South St. Paul (14-10) struggled throughout the game with runners in scoring position. The Packers left 15 runners on base, including three bases-loaded situations.
The Packers tied it at four-all on sophomore Owen Ramirez's sacrifice fly to right field with the bases full and one out in the sixth. It was his second RBI of the game.
Rocori 3, Red Wing 2: Rocori senior Reed Ruegemer fulfilled his description of designated hitter, delivering a two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Spartans the victory.
"When you put the ball in play, good things will happen," Ruegemer said.
Senior Brandon Gill set the stage for Ruegemer's game-winning hit with a two-out triple to right-center field. Red Wing's right fielder appeared to be in position to make a catch on Ruegemer's fly ball, but it fell to the ground.
"I swore he caught it," Gill said. "I was at home and heard everybody screaming. I looked up and saw the ball on the ground."
Red Wing senior Seth Yeatman tied it with a two-run double into the right field corner with one out in the seventh inning. Yeatman was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. The Wingers had three doubles in the inning, one coming after Yeatman's tying hit.
"It seemed like everything was falling apart," Gill said. "We battled through it."
The Spartans opened the scoring without a hit in the second inning. No. 9 hitter junior Matt Koshiol was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs. Red Wing starting pitcher senior Teddy Tauer walked two and hit two in the frame.
Rocori (21-5) increased its lead to 2-0 an inning later when senior Mason Primus, who singled with one out, scored on an error by the Wingers' first baseman.
Alexandria 2, Willmar 1: Junior pitcher Luke Levasseur felt all the weight on his shoulders. He didn't have any problem relieving the tension.
The righthanded reliever was called on to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning and followed it up with a perfect seventh to preserve Alexandria's victory.
"I was really nervous," said Levasseur, who struck out three of the four hitters he faced. "I knew one mistake could cost us."
Levasseur took to the mound with the bases loaded and two outs for Willmar in the top of the sixth inning. He ended the threat with a strikeout. He also fanned the final two batters in the seventh.
"I had good location of my fastball," Levasseur said. "I just kept throwing strikes."
Alexandria starting pitcher Brock Anderson was effectively wild for 5 ⅔ innings before giving way to Levasseur. The lefthander allowed only two hits while striking out 10 and walking eight.
"It wasn't my best performance, but I battled through it," Anderson said. "I didn't have good command today."
Willmar (13-7) benefited from Anderson's wildness to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Anderson, who walked three in the frame, issued a bases-loaded walk to junior Andy Schultz with two outs. He also loaded the bases in the sixth with three walks.
"Luke did a fantastic job coming in," Anderson said. "Give the credit to him."
Alexandria (16-6) scored its two runs in the bottom half the inning on senior Braden Reisdorf's two-run single to right field.