A two-run deficit? No problem. Duluth Marshall had trailed by at least that many in each of its first two state tournament games and came back to win. Why would Thursday be any different?
The Hilltoppers rallied with a single run in the top of the sixth inning, then scored three more in the top of the seventh en route to a 4-2 victory over Minnehaha Academy in the Class 2A championship game at Target Field.
“I told them ‘I do not know how, I just know that we will do this,’ ” Duluth Marshall coach Joe Wicklund said of his team’s seventh-inning outburst. “We kind of relaxed and started hitting baseballs all over the park.”
The victory secured the first baseball state championship for a team from Duluth since 1950 when Denfeld won a one-class tournament.
Minnehaha Academy (20-5), appearing in its fourth title game in the past five seasons, took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on runs scored by center fielder Conor Johnson and shortstop Noah Dehne.
The Redhawks’ defense, meantime, kept the Hilltoppers scoreless, thanks to two double plays and good fortune, including hard-hit balls right at fielders and an infield deflection that allowed their shortstop to throw out the batter at first.
“We were unlucky to a certain degree,” Wicklund said. “Finally, we crashed through that wall with our bats in the seventh inning.”
His team trailing 2-1, Cole Maccoux led off the seventh with a double to center that was misplayed, landing Maccoux on third base. Alex Busick followed with a game-tying single. Two outs later, Carter Sullivan singled in Busick to give the Hilltoppers a 3-2 lead. Peter Hansen’s single scored Sullivan for the final margin of victory.
“We came back in every game in the state tournament. There was no doubt in my mind we were going to come back,” Maccoux said. “We have so much confidence in this team, it’s unreal.”
Duluth Marshall (26-1) had lost in the 2018 Class 2A championship game.
“We worked harder in the last 365 days than I could have imagined,” Wicklund said. “I told the guys ‘At some point, you’ll have to answer the call’ and they did that with the bats.”