As good as the pitching was all day, the best was saved for last. Senior Adam Snelgrove of New York Mills, considered by most as the best in the Class 1A field, and sophomore Jack Fossand of St. Agnes hooked up in a good-old fashioned pitcher's duel, won by the Aggies 1-0 in the state quarterfinals Thursday.
It took an unusual set of circumstances to even produce the game's only run. With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, St. Agnes' Joe McDonald struck out but reached second base when the ball bounced away from the catcher on the third strike and he couldn't locate the ball near the Aggies dugout.
After sophomore Nick Turch bunted McDonald to third, Aggies coach Mite Streitz decided to take a chance. He called for a straight steal of home by McDonald on an 0-1 pitch. Snelgrove delivered the ball to home plate, but the third base umpire called a balk for the game's lone run.
Both pitchers only gave up three hits apiece. They combined for 21 strikeouts, 12 by Fossand.
Browerville 1, Kenyon-Wanamingo 0: Browerville gladly will sit through any rain delay. The Tigers looked quite comfortable in that setting Thursday.
After nearly a four-hour delay, Browerville's first three batters strung together singles, producing the lone run before the shoes of the Kenyon-Wanamingo players had a chance to get damp.
That was all the run support senior pitcher Austin Host needed against the Knights. Host threw a five-hit shutout as Browerville blanked Kenyon-Wanamingo 1-0 in the opening quarterfinal game at Chaska Athletic Park.
"[The rain delay] was frustrating," Host said. "I tried to stay calm, and very positive during that time."
He maintained his composure until the bottom of the seventh inning. Kenyon-Wanamingo's first two hitters reached on a single and walk. The righthander retired the next two batters before the Knights (19-7) loaded the bases with two outs. He recorded his sixth strikeout of the day to get out of the jam and put the Tigers (23-3) in the semifinals.
Lac qui Parle Valley 2, Ely 1: Pitching was at a premium in the second game, just as it was in the first. This time it was Lac qui Parle Valley righthander Brandon Bornhorst and Ely lefthander Wes Snyder matching each other pitch for pitch.
That was until pinch hitter Jared Roiland stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning. The senior lined a game-winning single into left-center with one out, scoring John Weeding from second base, to give the Eagles (17-9) a victory over the Timberwolves (20-4). Weeding, also a pinch hitter, opened the inning with a walk and was sacrificed to second.
"Our coach always tells us to be ready because you never know when your number is going to be called," Roiland said. "I was just trying to help the team out."
Roiland stepped into the batter's box with only seven hits and three RBI this season. His batting average was a mere .212.
"I was looking for a fastball," Roiland said. "I knew if I made contact it would go."
Blackduck 4, BOLD 2: It was Aaron Nissen's turn to dominate on the mound before laboring through the final two innings. The senior righthander scattered seven hits while going the distance as the Drakes (23-3) held on to beat the Warriors (22-5).
Nissen never allowed more than one runner in any inning until the final two frames. He worked out of a second-and-third jam with one out in the sixth. BOLD scored both of its runs in the seventh after loading the bases with none out.
Junior Shane Fenske had the Drakes' only run-scoring hit, a two-out single in the fifth to make it 3-0. Their other three runs scored on two groundouts and a wild pitch.