Holy Family's Kasey Ralston pitched his second shutout of the tournament to nail down the 2A title.
Kasey Ralston's best asset was on display Monday afternoon at Target Field.
It wasn't the Holy Family Catholic senior's 90-miles-per-hour fastball or his biting slider or his hitting ability, although all of those were significant.
Ralston's biggest contribution to his team's 5-0 victory over St. Cloud Cathedral in the Class 2A championship game was merely his presence.
With Ralston on the mound, a very good Holy Family team becomes nearly unbeatable. The Indiana University recruit put on his second commanding performance of the state tournament, shutting down St. Cloud Cathedral (24-5) -- a program with seven state titles -- on two hits, striking out seven.
Ralston pitched complete-game shutouts in both his state tournament starts. He gave up a total of five hits and struck out 13.
"We had so much confidence coming into this game," senior left fielder Tommy Hanson said. "Any time you have a pitcher like Kasey on the mound, you feel good about your chances."
St. Cloud Cathedral coach Bob Karn, whose teams had won five championships since 1988, knew a sixth title would be difficult considering the mound opponent.
"We felt that Ralston was the best pitcher we would see all season," Karn said. "He threw harder and had better control than any other pitcher we'd faced."
Ralston was as good as advertised Monday. Mixing his fastball and curve with a slider rarely seen at the high school level, Ralston faced only four batters over the minimum and didn't allow a runner to reach third base until two were out in the seventh inning.
"That was probably the most determined I've ever been," Ralston said. "I wanted to give my best effort on the biggest stage I've ever played on."
With Ralston in control, the Fire put pressure on the Cathedral pitchers, leaving four runners on base through the first three innings before finally breaking through in the fourth.
Keller Knoll and Connor Riddle started it with back-to-back doubles off Cathedral starter Eric Pelant for the first run of the game. Two batters later another double, this time by Jack Schliesman, drove in the second run. Hanson capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
With Ralston dealing zeroes, that 3-0 lead looked far bigger.
"I thought it was just a matter of time before we broke through," Holy Family coach Bryan DeLorenzo said. "We were getting guys on base and our outs were hard-hit."
Holy Family (25-5) added two more runs on three hits in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving Ralston breathing room he would not need.
"This is such an awesome feeling, it's unexplainable," Ralston said. "And doing it in a dream place to play, it's probably the most joy I've ever had playing baseball."