The stakes get bigger, the wins more dramatic.
No. 1-ranked Waconia scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, capped by junior Robert Smith's game-winning hit, for a wild 7-6 victory over Marshall in the Class 3A semifinals Friday at Siebert Field, keeping its dreams of a perfect season intact.
It was Waconia's third consecutive walk-off win. This time it overcame a three-run Marshall rally in the top of the inning.
"This is all a blur," Waconia coach Mark Grundhofer said. "Things like this aren't supposed to happen. I'll be replaying this one in my head for quite a while."
The Wildcats (25-0) have won four of their past five games by one run, the other by two, thanks to a two-run sixth inning.
"This is really amazing," said Waconia senior Dillon Whittaker, who preceded Smith's at-bat with a game-tying run-scoring single — his second hit — with one out. "How can anybody have a better season?"
Smith was hitless when he stepped into the batter's box. He drove a pitch over the right fielder's head to score pinch-runner Jaden Vanderhoff from second base with the winning run.
"We never give up," Smith said. "This team keeps fighting the whole time."
Jacob Hendricks started the uprising with a run-scoring single, scoring Justin Schultz. It was his third hit and second RBI. Schultz went 2-for-3, scored three runs and drove in another.
"Words can't describe this," Hendricks said. "It was crazy."
Marshall (19-7) scored three runs with two outs in the top half of the inning to take a 6-4 lead. Junior Jacob Hess' two-run triple down the right-field line capped the flurry. The Tigers tied it earlier in the inning when Oklahoma recruit Dylan Criquet-Danielson beat out a close play at first on an infield grounder, allowing Ryan VanMoer to score. VanMoer tripled with two outs.
"We needed a lot of things to go right, and it did," Grundhofer said. "This is a coach's dream."
Hibbing 8, Alexandria 7: Hibbing appeared to be dead in the water in the state semifinals, until the bottom of the order stepped up.
Sophomore Will Durie, the Bluejackets' No. 9 hitter, capped a five-run bottom of the seventh inning with a run-scoring single up the middle to give Hibbing (19-8) a comeback victory over Alexandria.
"We don't consider Will a sophomore," Hibbing coach Jay Wetzel said. "He's a three-sport athlete and used to pressure situations."
Durie's single followed a two-run double by Dylan Mattson, tying the score 7-7. It was the second hit of the day for both of them.
Hibbing had only four hits in the previous five innings after a three-run first. It had six in the last inning.
"It's not just about me but the whole team," Durie said. "Baseball is all about having fun. That's what we're doing."
Seniors Austin Glad drove in the first run of the final inning with a single, and Anthony Kanipes knocked in the second with a double. Kanipes, the No. 6 batter in the lineup, went 3-for-4 with two RBI. Glad also had two RBI.
"We put on our rally caps and put the ball in play," Mattson said. "We didn't stop believing."
Losing pitcher Jake Drew had two run-scoring doubles and Connor Hammerback had a two-run triple and drove in four runs for Alexandria (20-6), which took a 7-3 lead with three runs in the fourth.
"As a coach you have to bury your emotions," Wetzel said. "We fought all the way to the end."