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Role change boosts Minnehaha Academy in baseball championship repeat

Posted on 26 June 2017 by calvin

By MATTHEW DAVIS

Minnehaha Academy sophomore pitcher Bennett Theisen changed roles at the Class 2A state baseball tournament, and it paid off in a second-straight championship.

A starter all season, Theisen didn’t get to open any game on the mound at state. Instead, he came in as a closer for the June 19 championship game and struck out seven batters over the final three innings. It secured a 6-4 win for the Redhawks over Pierz.

“He’s a real power pitcher, and he can definitely throw some guys off when we go to him at the end,” Redhawks coach Scott Glenn said. “He’s really excelled in that role. He’s just gone out there and blown guys away.”

Minnehaha Academy needed someone to stop Pierz. After the Redhawks had jumped out to a 4-0 lead through three innings, Pierz rallied with four unanswered, including three in the fifth inning, to tie the game.

“They had all the momentum going,” Glenn said.

Minnehaha Academy baseballPhoto left: Minnehaha Academy repeated as Class 2A state baseball champions June 19 in a 6-4 victory over Pierz at Target Field. (Photo submitted)

Besides striking out seven, Theisen got the Redhawks out of the final inning with two Pierz base runners in scoring position. He also stepped up earlier as the third baseman in the fourth inning when he turned a double play to end an inning when the Pioneers threatened with the bases loaded.

Though Theisen shined on the mound, starting sophomore pitcher Brock Brumley allowed one earned run on six hits in four innings. Brumley left the mound with the Redhawks ahead 4-2.
“Brock pitched really well, and I probably could have gone a little bit longer with him, but they [Pierz] had some momentum going, and I thought a change might do us some good.”

Theisen’s relief role came about with Brumley and senior Alex Evenson getting the starts in the first two state tournament games in St. Cloud June 15-16. With a two-day break between the semifinals and championship, having Theisen wait for later innings made sense to Glenn and company.

Minnehaha Academy (26-2) didn’t have a cakewalk to the title game either with two five-run wins. It started with a 10-5 quarterfinal win over Warroad June 15.

Glenn said he “figured with their hockey tradition” that the Warriors “would be a team with a lot of really good athletes.”

The Warriors had been a hard-hitting team with five players who hit two or more home runs going into the tournament.

“The first inning, they came out and they were smacking the ball all over the field,” Glenn said.
Warroad went up 1-0 after a three-hit top of the first inning. The top-seeded Redhawks answered with a four-run bottom of the first. The Warriors closed the gap to two runs, 5-3, in the third before the Redhawks piled on five more runs over the next three innings.

Evenson and Justin Evenson each had three RBI for the Redhawks. Brumley fanned five batters for the win.

Alex Evenson, who came back from injury for the state tournament, pitched the Redhawks to victory in the semifinals against Maple Lake June 16. He struck out 11 batters in the 8-3 win. Theisen and Kenny Kiratli drove in two runs apiece as the Redhawks from a 2-0 hole after two innings and outscored the Irish 8-1.

Similar to Theisen, Alex Evenson came up big in the title game but with his bat. Evenson sealed the win against Pierz in the seventh with a RBI, his lone hit of the day, for a 6-4. Noah Dehne had just Redhawks ahead to stay with a RBI single.

“We got a pretty lucky break in the top of the seventh with a pretty routine ground ball hit a base and hopped over the first [Redhawks] base runner and actually got to second,” Glenn said of the play that set up Dehne’s tie-breaking RBI.

Minnehaha Academy got some bounces along the way in a run to repeat as state champions, but the senior-heavy group had a lot of experience coming back. The Redhawks lost just four players, though that Division I college-level talent, but simply reloaded.

“Going from four seniors last year to 10 seniors this year, the senior leadership was huge this year,” Glenn said. “We had a lot of guys who played big roles last year, and they built on that.”
Another championship season that is.

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