Cretin-Derham Hall captures its 11th baseball title

  • Article by: Ron Haggstrom
  • Star Tribune
  • June 15, 2007 - 11:04 PM

Eden Prairie coach Mike Halloran couldn't believe what he witnessed in the sixth inning of a semifinal victory Thursday. He had a flashback Friday, only with a different result.

Curt Swanson scored on wild pitch with two outs in the sixth, rallying Cretin-Derham Hall past Eden Prairie 4-3 for the Class 3A baseball tournament championship Friday night at Midway Stadium. It was the Raiders' 11th state championship, and their first since 2001.

"That was tough," Halloran said.

He'd seen a sixth-inning situation play out strangely Thursday. Dassel-Cokato scored four runs to take a 9-6 lead in the sixth, benefitting from two hit batters, a walk, two wild pitches and a passed ball. The Eagles managed to rally for an 11-9 victory.

The Raiders' victory Friday ended a run of three consecutive crowns by the Lake Conference. Eden Prairie started the run in 2004.

"It was nice to beat [the Lake Conference] after losing to them last year," Raiders junior Jacob Esch said. Cretin-Derham Hall lost to Apple Valley 10-4 in the finale a year ago.

Esch pitched scoreless relief for the final 2 1/3 innings and picked up his second victory of the tournament. He won all eight of his decisions this season.

"I think we have the best pitching staff in the state, and it showed in the tournament," Esch said. "I think our experience last year helped us. You can't teach experience."

Esch and sophomore Max Gregory threw back-to-back shutouts Thursday.

Cretin-Derham Hall's sixth inning looked all too familiar to the Eagles faithful. The Raiders scored twice despite getting only a leadoff single from Brandon Kelly. Two walks, two fielder's choices and a wild pitch later, the Raiders had turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead.

"We didn't make any errors, and they did," Esch said. "That was the difference in the game. It's that simple."

Cretin-Derham Hall took advantage of a two-base throwing error to make it 3-2 in the fifth. Esch's sacrifice fly scored Matt McQuillan, who led off the inning with a bloop single to right field.

Eden Prairie didn't waste any time ending Cretin-Derham Hall's scoreless streak in the state tournament, scoring twice in the first. Kyle Geason lined a two-run single down the third base line off Raiders starter Chris Dell, who left after 1 1/3 innings because of a sore elbow.

The Raiders got a run back in the next inning. Chris Hickey delivered a two-out, run-scoring single to center field.

Eden Prairie answered with one run in the third without getting the ball out of the infield. Brett Thorney's slow roller between the mound and third base with the bases loaded and two outs scored Dan Fagerhaug. The Eagles had two walks and two infield hits in the inning.

"Our pitching and defense has carried us and did so again tonight," Raiders coach Jim O'Neill said. "We came up big at the end."

Ron Haggstrom •

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