Baseball: Wild day for WingersST. PAUL — Sometimes it feels like the world is stacked against you.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
ST. PAUL — Sometimes it feels like the world is stacked against you.
On a night when almost everything went wrong for fifth-ranked Red Wing, the Wingers still found a way to win 6-5 against Totino-Grace in a marathon, 13-inning game during the Class 3A state baseball tournament at Dunning Field on the campus of Concordia University.
Senior Erin Foley supplied the heroics for Red Wing, knocking a single through a drawn-in defense to score junior Preston Blaney and send the Wingers to the consolation championship game in stunning fashion.
“This is what we want to remember,” Red Wing head coach Jim Bohmbach said. “We want to remember it on a high note. Erin getting that big hit. It couldn’t happen to a better kid. He wanted to do that all year.”
Foley finished 2-for-5 with the lone RBI and Blaney was 0-for-1 with two walks, four stolen bases and three runs scored for the Wingers (23-2).
The clutch hit was a long time coming as a season’s worth of craziness happened in one game.
Two Wingers were ejected from the game, Mike Stegora in the first inning for running into the first baseman — a controversial call due to “malicious intent” — and senior Zach Garner in the 11th inning for throwing his helmet and excessive arguing with a base umpire.
Garner was 4-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI before his ejection.
“You saw a little frustration, emotion for the earlier game,” Bohmbach said. “Not necessarily the right emotion but sometimes the emotions overcome. We just couldn’t get a break. It felt like you were fighting every call.”
Stegora’s removal came in the first inning when Red Wing loaded the bases with no outs trailing 2-0. Stegora hit a line drive at the second baseman that appeared to be caught in the air but was ruled a no-catch. The Wingers’ base runners stayed at their bases but junior Ryan Boldt was called out at second and when the ball returned to first, a confused Stegora ran into the first baseman in an attempt to get to first and was thrown out for being too physical on the play. The ground ball should have resulted in a triple play for Totino-Grace but Red Wing was incorrectly allowed to keep runners on second and third with two outs. Senior Joel Newman flew out to end the inning.
Issues arose again in the 11th inning with the Wingers behind 5-4 and Garner stepping to the plate. Garner ripped a clutch double into the right-center field gap to score Blaney from first base. Trying to stretch the double into a triple, Garner was called out at third base to end the inning, despite the third baseman appearing to drop the ball.
“We had a couple calls not go our way,” Foley said. “But 13 innings is a heck of a game.”
No one could blame Foley for being all smiles after the game, as well as the face full of shaving cream, but his big hit might not have happened without aggressive base running by Blaney.
Blaney walked to leadoff the 13th inning and proceeded to steal both second and third base. Despite the huge moment, Blaney was unfazed by his contribution.
“It’s do or die,” Blaney said. “Either you score and you win or you don’t.”
Foley missed a bunt attempt on Blaney’s steal of third but he said it took pressure away because he had more ways to get the runner in from third.
“I knew if I didn’t get it, the guys behind me would get it done,” Foley said. “I didn’t put pressure on myself. I found a pitch I could hit the other way and it made it through with them playing up.”
Ninth-grader Ty Buck picked up the win for Red Wing, throwing four innings and giving up his first run of the season on one hit and four walks. He struck out four. Newman started, going six innings and allowing four runs, two earned, on eight hits and three walks. Senior Carsten Meyer threw another three scoreless innings of relief. He has not allowed a run this season in 15 innings.
Totino-Grace (16-9-1) was led by Derek Ruff, who went 1-for-3 with a double, three walks and an RBI. Samuel Opat was 1-for-1 with two RBI as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning.
Now, the Wingers will get a short night’s rest before facing Hill-Murray at 10 a.m. today at Midway Stadium in St. Paul. It’s definitely worth it, Goggin said.
“We need some more team bonding,” he said, noting the team wanted another night in the hotel. “We’re going to be excited to play. We’ll play it like a championship game.”