New Life Academy vows to energize its students. Its baseball team is living off that motto.
Sam Horner threw a two-hitter and his brother, John, scored the winning run in the eighth inning as the Eagles upset Class 1A defending state champion BOLD 3-2 in the semifinals Friday at Chaska Athletic Park. They will play unbeaten New York Mills for the championship Monday at Target Field starting at noon.
"We've been waiting since eighth grade to play at Target Field," John said. "This is great."
He opened the top of the eighth with a single, advanced to second and third on walks and scored on Ben Brown's fielder's choice with one out.
Sam then set down BOLD (22-4) in order in the bottom half of the inning, just like he had done in the seventh. He struck out four and walked one. Both of the Warriors' runs were unearned.
"That's the best I've seen him throw," John said. "He was excellent."
BOLD (Bird Island, Olivia, Lake Lillian school district) tied it with two runs in the sixth, benefiting from two catcher's interference calls on consecutive pitches. The Warriors' Riley Kramer apparently grounded out to third base to end the frame, but catcher's interference was called on the play. On the next pitch, Logan Sandgren was awarded first base on catcher's interference, loading the bases. Ben Steffel's grounder then went through the legs of the second baseman, plating two runs.
"We faced some adversity with a couple of calls, but we battled through it," John Horner said.
Woodbury-based New Life Academy (24-4) took a 1-0 lead in the first. Sam Horner reached on an error, advanced to third on a double by John Horner and scored on Simon Killeen's groundout to shortstop. Killeen scored the Eagles' second run on an error in the sixth.
"I knew we were the underdog," Sam Horner said. "They were the best team in the state. I just threw strikes, and hoped for the best."
New York Mills 6, Chatfield 5: The Eagles won their second game in as many days in the bottom of the seventh. Tucker Skoblik took a bases-loaded walk with one out in the frame, scoring Brandon Kupfer for the winner.
"This has been crazy," Skoblik said. "It's going to be an hour before I calm down. We have a lot of fight in us."
AJ Wegscheid, a .240 hitter who bats ninth for New York Mills (25-0), ignited the offense at the outset. His bases-loaded triple highlighted a four-run third, giving the Eagles a 5-0 lead. It was his second hit of the day.
"AJ has had his ups and downs this year," Skoblik said. "He had one heck of a game. He came through today for us."
Chatfield (22-4) didn't go quietly. It scored an unearned run in the fourth and four times in the fifth, tying it at five-all. Zach Eggers, TJ Moechnig and Jake Neis had run-scoring hits in the fifth.