For all of his athletic success, Brindley Theisen was treading on new ground when he took the mound for St. Cloud Cathedral in Monday’s Class 2A championship baseball game.
Theisen, a two-sport star who will play basketball at St. Cloud State next year, has pitched in big games before. But he’d never done it on only two days rest, after having pitched a complete-game two-hitter in Friday’s semifinals. Coming back to pitch in a championship game? The mind was willing, even eager. He wasn’t sure about the right arm, however.
“I usually need three, four, five days to pitch again,” Theisen said. “I wanted the ball, but I wasn’t sure what would happen.”
Theisen need not have worried. After an early stumble, he settled in and was dominant, leading St. Cloud Cathedral to a 10-1 victory over Minnehaha Academy for its ninth state championship in team history and second in as many seasons. Cathedral finished with a 25-0 record and has won 50 consecutive games dating to 2014.
“I’m not trying to downplay winning that many in a row, because it looks great when you write it down, but that’s not our intent,” said coach Bob Karn, who improved his state-record career total to 736 with the victory. “Our goal is just to play well and give ourselves a chance to win. And everything has to fall into place.”
For five batters, it appeared the decision to start Theisen might have been a mistake. Four of the first five Minnehaha Academy batters reached base on a walk and three singles, resulting in a 1-0 Redhawks lead. As it turned out, that flurry was simply poking the bear.
Theisen buckled down, found his fastball and the Redhawks never again posed a serious threat. They managed only one base hit and two baserunners over the final 6⅔ innings.
“Yeah, I was a little [angry],” Theisen said. “It got the adrenaline going.”
In the meantime, the Crusaders’ hitters were smacking the ball all over Target Field. Known for their preparation and approach at the plate, they wore down Minnehaha Academy starter Jesse Retzlaff with a series of line drives and long flies that the Redhawks’ defense just couldn’t reach.
Cathedral scored two runs in the top of the second to regain a lead it would not relinquish. The Crusaders added one in the fourth, then broke the game open with four in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
The majority of the damage was done by the bottom of the Crusaders’ order. The numbers eight and nine hitters, Jacob Gross and Bryant Bohlig, combined for five hits and six RBI.
For Bohlig, a senior who sat out a year after transferring from St. Cloud Tech, winning a state championship was the perfect salve for losing a year of eligibility.
“You could tell right away that playing here was different,” Bohlig said. “Coach Karn makes sure we get a little bit better every day and that’s what we did. This is the best thing ever. I’m so glad I’m here.”