Before Matthew Tautges hit the walk-off single in No. 3 seed Pierz's 1-0 victory over Duluth Marshall in the semifinals of the Class 2A baseball state tournament, the senior pitcher recorded his toughest outs of the game.
Pierz (26-2) and Marshall (19-6) both relied on their pitchers on Friday. Marshall's Derrick Winn struck out seven in a complete game. Tautges didn't let the Hilltoppers string together hits.
In the seventh, Tautges faced a bases-loaded jam with one out. A pop fly to right field looked like an opportunity for Winn to tag up from third base, but Thomas Funk let the ball drop in foul territory. Tautges responded by recording a strikeout and then forcing a groundout.
In the bottom of the inning, Tautges hit a line drive to right field. After he crossed first base and sealed his team's berth in the state championship against No. 1 seed Minnehaha Academy, Tautges threw his helmet high into the air.
Minnehaha Academy 8, Maple Lake 3: Pitcher Alex Evenson left Dick Putz Field with an oversized gold chain around his neck. The Redhawks give the chain to the team's player of the game.
Evenson, who was 2-for-3 with a double, single and RBI, hadn't pitched in about a month because of a left shoulder injury that still bothered him Friday. Still, he threw 119 pitches in 6⅔ innings and struck out 10. He allowed only two earned runs.
After Maple Lake scored a run in the first and Evenson took a line drive off a leg, he seemed to pitch with more composure.
"Once the adrenaline pumps … everything kind of goes away," he said.
Minnehaha first baseman John Goth tied the score 3-3 with a one-run double in the top of the sixth inning. The Redhawks took the lead with a single from Bennett Theisen.
The next inning, Simon Huyck led off with a well-placed bunt that probably would've left him safe even with a good throw, but a Maple Lake error allowed Huyck to advance to third base. Kenny Kiratli later hit a two-run double.