Judging by his remarkably efficient effort Friday, St. Cloud Cathedral junior Brindley Theisen is just as comfortable with a small white ball in his hands as he is with a much larger orange one.
Given a three-run lead before he ever took the mound, Theisen, a 1,000-point career scorer for the Crusaders' basketball team, pitched a three-hit shutout to defeat Glencoe-Silver Lake 6-0 in the Class 2A semifinals at St. Cloud's Dick Putz Field.
"Brindley is really a terrific athlete," said Cathedral coach Bob Karn. "He has unusual composure for a young ballplayer. He doesn't allow anything to affect him."
Theisen struck out three and walked one, facing just four batters over the minimum of 21.
"I'm lucky to be able to catch such great pitchers," said Cathedral's Tom Imholte, who was behind the plate for Jeff Fasching's 5-1 victory over Blake in the quarterfinals. "I just have to call the pitches and they throw them."
Imholte had the key at-bat in the Crusaders' three-run first-inning. With one run already scored, he stroked a two-strike, two-out pitch off Glencoe-Silver Lake starter Tanner Grack to right-center, driving in a pair for what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
"That's such a nice thing to have," Theisen said. "I can just go out there and throw strikes. If they hit it, they hit it."
Glencoe-Silver Lake (18-5) didn't hit much. Theisen held the Panthers hitless for the first three innings and did not allow a Panthers runner past second base.
Meanwhile, Cathedral added to its lead with a 380-foot home run by Fasching, who was playing right field, in the fourth inning and a couple of insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
"Without a doubt, that's a tough team to play, especially when they have the lead," Glencoe-Silver Lake coach Dean Schwirtz said. "Baseball can be a very humbling game."
The victory was the 710th of Karn's career, a state record. The Crusaders (26-1) will be making their 10th championship-game appearance Monday, looking for their eighth state title.
Fairmont 19, Kasson-Mantorville 3: Tyler Tennyson had four hits. Jack Waletich and Luke Becker had three each. In all, Fairmont (25-1) pounded out 16 base hits on its way to a shocking five-inning rout of defending 2A champ Kasson-Mantorville (22-5).
"I never would have believed we could do that to a good team like [Kasson-Mantorville]," said Fairmont senior Luke Becker, who will play baseball for North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City next year. "I was surprised at how loose we were before the game. We felt good."
Every Fairmont starter scored at least one run and drove in at least one run. Tennyson and Waletich each had four RBI and Becker scored four runs, including the Cardinals' final run when he bombed a long homer to right center to cap off a nine-run fifth inning.
"Yeah," Becker said sheepishly. "I went up there swinging hard."
When the Cardinals weren't hitting, they were getting hit. Kasson-Mantorville pitchers hit Fairmont batters seven times. Junior second baseman Matt Lytle was hit three times, giving him four in two tournament games. "As the number nine hitter, I'm just up there trying to get on base," Lytle said.
In all, the Cardinals have been hit 11 times in the tourney. No one involved with the tournament knew if that approached any sort of record.
"I don't know if teams don't like us or are trying to intimidate us or what, but I'll take it," Becker said. "We're going to Target Field. Holy buckets!"