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Amateur Baseball: Solo home run ends Cannon Falls' season

Cannon Falls' second baseman Jamie Stay dives for a ground ball during Saturday's Class C state amateur baseball tournament game against Avon in Maple Lake, Minn. (Republican Eagle photo by Chris Harrell)1 / 3
Cannon Falls' manager and starting pitcher Keith Meyers delivers a pitch early during Saturday's 1-0 loss to Avon in Maple Lake. Meyers struck out 13 in 11 innings on the mound. (Republican Eagle photo by Chris Harrell)2 / 3
Cannon Falls' third baseman Rich Burr makes a sliding stop and pops up to throw the runner out at first base during Saturday's 1-0 loss to Avon at the Class C state amateur baseball tournament. Burr went 1-for-3 with a walk. (Republican Eagle photo by Chris Harrell)3 / 3

MAPLE LAKE, Minn. – Cannon Falls’ manager and starting pitcher Keith Meyers got the best of Avon’s Taylor Holthaus for most of Saturday’s Class C state amateur baseball tournament game at Irish Stadium.

Meyers struck out Holthaus in his first three at-bats but Holthaus locked in on a first-pitch fastball in the top of the 11th inning, clobbering a solo home run that gave Avon a 1-0 extra-innings victory over Cannon Falls.

“I was getting him inside all day,” Meyers said. “I was up and in, up and in, and he was swinging and missing, not even close. He was sitting on it and he yanked it out. … It happens. It’s a game of cat-and-mouse; that’s pitching.”

That one pitch was Meyers’ only blemish Saturday, as he gave up eight hits and did not walk a batter while striking out 13.

“He was going to make them hit it,” Bears’ catcher Taylor Pagel said. “He missed one pitch and that’s all. That’s pretty good. We were mixing fastballs out and in and mainly using the slider on the inner half (of the plate). It was effective in Regions and it was just as effective here tonight.”

The game was a rematch, and somewhat of a repeat, of last year’s first round of the Class C tournament when Avon’s Kyle Collins no-hit Cannon Falls in a 1-0 win. Collins was outstanding again Saturday, throwing 8 2/3 innings and giving up four hits and one walk. He had six strikeouts.

“He threw an effective slider that he kept down,” Pagel said of Collins. “He kept the fastballs down, too. It was just like last year, we knew what was coming and it still got us.”

Meyers silenced any chance of a repeat no-hitter with a leadoff single in bottom of the first inning but he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double, jamming his knee on the slide into second base.

“I thought I could take it,” Meyers said. “I think it was the right idea to be aggressive there but I banged my knee pretty good on that one.”

From the start, both starting pitchers were in complete control. No runner made it past second base until the top of the seventh inning, with five hits and 10 strikeouts combined between the two teams.

In the seventh inning, Avon’s Scott Litchy ripped a leadoff single and advanced to third with two outs but Meyers picked up his eighth strikeout to end the threat.

“It’s what you work all year for,” Meyers said of pitching at state. “It’s why I run those extra miles after games and why I work out in the off-season and it’s just my favorite time of the year. I love playing and I love doing it. I get a little more focused maybe but it’s a lot of fun.”

Cory Hedeen reached on a walk to start the bottom of the seventh, stole second base and went to third on a passed ball with no outs. But Collins kept the run from scoring, coaxing a groundout to first, a line drive out to short right field and a strikeout.

“Two-out hits, that’s the name of the game, especially in the playoffs,” Meyers said. “We had the right guys up in the right situations.”

The Lakers tallied two singles in the ninth inning but Meyers picked Holthaus off at first base with one out, his second pick-off of the game.

Meyers started the bottom of the ninth inning with a slap bunt single and got to second base on a wild pitch. Again, Cannon Falls failed to come through, striking out twice and flying out to left field.

Coming back out for his 11th inning on the mound, Meyers started with another strikeout and a weak pop-up to third base before Holthaus jumped the first pitch with two outs for the game-winning run.

The Bears threatened in the bottom of the 11th as Meyers reached on an error and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Nate Otto clobbered a fly ball that might have tied the game but a heavy wind allowed Rick Hendrickson to make the play in deep center field for the second out. After a walk to Brandon Voth, Pagel popped out to third base for the final out.

Meyers led Cannon Falls on offense, going 2-for-5. Hedeen, Rich Burr and Luke Winchell each finished 1-for-3 in the loss.

Litchy was 3-for-5, Holthaus went 2-for-5 and Luke Manthe was 2-for-4 for Avon.

The Bears finished the season 18-12 overall. 

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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