The last time Eden Prairie pitcher Jack Zigan faced Wayzata, he gave up four runs in the first inning, then shut out the Trojans for the rest of the game. That mid-May loss paid dividends Thursday.
"I learned how to get those guys out," Zigan said. "Off-speed on the first pitch, then paint the outside corners."
The senior relied on that knowledge in the opening quarterfinal of the Class 4A baseball state tournament at CHS Field, pitching a complete game in a 6-1 victory over the No. 1-seeded Trojans, the defending champions. Zigan scattered eight hits and gave up just one unearned run.
"We've lost six games in a row to them," Zigan said. "That was nice to finally get a victory."
In Friday's semifinals, Eden Prairie will play Lakeville North at noon, and Forest Lake will play Woodbury at 2:30 p.m. The final is Monday night at Target Field.
The Eagles broke open a scoreless game with two runs in the top of the fourth inning and tacked on three more in the sixth to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Wayzata (17-7) scored one run in the bottom of the sixth, but Zigan coaxed Sam Westermeyer to ground into a double play, essentially ending Wayzata's chances.
Eden Prairie (17-9) lost to Wayzata in the state quarterfinals last season.
"[The] big thing today was that we've been here before," Eden Prairie coach John Buteyn said. "We've been through the process, and we were relaxed."
Forest Lake 6, Maple Grove 5 (8): Twice in need of a run, the Rangers turned to an almost forgotten play: the squeeze bunt.
It worked both times, most notably to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After the Crimson had taken a 5-4 lead in the top of the inning on a throwing error by third baseman Tyler Boesel, Forest Lake (19-6) responded by getting its first two runners on base and in scoring position after a miscue by the Maple Grove shortstop.
Boesel redeemed himself with a sacrifice fly to center, tying the game 5-5. Jake Wensmann followed with a squeeze bunt that scored Jared Henderson from third with the deciding run.
"That's kind of our go-to play," Forest Lake coach Tal Gravelle said. "We work hard on it, and Jake's a good bunter. We thought, 'Let's put a little pressure on the defense here.' "
Maple Grove (17-9) took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third, but Forest Lake's Cam Kline socked a three-run homer the same inning, cutting the lead to one.
"The turning point was Cam Kline hitting a three-run homer," Gravelle said. "Our dobbers were down and all of a sudden, boom! One swing gets you back in the game."
Forest Lake tied the score in the next inning, also on a squeeze bunt, setting up the extra-inning finish.
Woodbury 4, Champlin Park 1: Woodbury pitcher Max Meyer admitted he didn't have his best stuff. Still, Meyer at 80 percent was good enough to pitch the Royals to victory.
Meyer pitched a complete game, giving up four hits and one run while striking out nine. Great numbers, to be sure, but he walked four batters and allowed Champlin Park to get its leadoff batter on base in four of the seven innings.
"I didn't feel sharp. I don't know what was going on," Meyer said.
The game was scoreless until the sixth inning, when Woodbury took advantage of Champlin Park mistakes and a little creativity of its own to break through with two runs. Champlin Park got one back in the bottom of the inning, but Meyer slammed the door.
Lakeville North 8, Burnsville 0: Fans who came out to see the Blaze's Sam Carlson pitch saw a thoroughly impressive performance in every phase of the game.
But it was Lakeville North doing the impressing.
The Panthers roughed up Carlson, touching him for seven runs and five hits in the first two innings, and coasted to an easy victory over Burnsville (21-7). Carlson was drafted 55th overall by the Seattle Mariners on Monday.
"Sam has dealt with pressure the whole season," Burnsville coach Mick Scholl said. "Today just wasn't his day. That's part of the game."
Carlson hit leadoff batter Michael Dooney to start the game and issued a walk two batters later. By the time the inning was over, the Panthers had a 4-0 lead.
The next inning, Lakeville North (20-5) scored three more times, the big blow a two-run homer by catcher Nick Juaire for a 7-0 lead. Carlson finished the inning, then was pulled.
"Obviously everyone's heard about him, but we think we're the best team in the state and we wanted to prove that," said Juaire, who homered in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. "Our coach talks about playing with an edge, having the edge and we definitely had the edge in this game."