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Red Wing advances to Final Four

Cole Kelly tags out Michael Schwab in the second inning. Schwab tried to score from first on a double. - R-E photo by Ryan Nilsson1 / 3
Red Wing catcher Cole Kelly shows the umpire he held onto the ball after tagging out Michael Schwab in the second inning. - R-E photo by Ryan Nilsson2 / 3
Red Wing's Zach Garner throws a pitch in the first inning. Garner went on to earn the complete-game win. - R-E photo by Ryan Nilsson3 / 3

Red Wing received another strong outing from its starter Monday at the Athletic Field and advanced to the Section 1AAA Final Four with a 6-1 victory over Owatonna.

Wingers junior Zach Garner allowed five hits and earned the complete-game win two days after Justin Cunningham pitched five strong innings in a victory over Northfield.

Garner, who worked the outer half of the plate all game, struck out six, didn't walk a batter and surrendered an earned run in the third.

"After that first inning I was zoned in," Garner said. "It felt like I was hitting all my spots. I had a feeling I was going to have a good game."

The game was postponed because of inclement weather and then delayed in the bottom of the first because of lightning. Garner warmed up twice, but the delays didn't seem to bother him. Only once did he face more than four batters in an inning.

Wingers assistant coach Josh Nelson praised Garner for keeping the ball down in the zone against the fifth-seeded Huskies.

"With the low (strike zone) umpire like that it was just perfect for him," Red Wing coach Jim Bohmbach said. "You couldn't have asked for a better umpire for his throwing."

The Wingers, who are the No. 4 seed in the tournament, will play No. 2 Rochester John Marshall (16-5) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Athletic Field. After two rounds of single elimination, the tournament switches to a double-elimination format for the Final Four.

Garner received a big assist from his defense in the top of the second. With Michael Schwab on first, Ryan Melcher doubled to center field. Schwab tried to score on the play, but he was out at the plate because of a crisp relay from Alex Quiding to second baseman Joel Newman to catcher Cole Kelly.

The similarities between Monday's game and Saturday's 7-3 win over the Raiders didn't stop on the mound. Ryan Boldt again hit a home run to put the Wingers on the board. His blast in the second inning Monday was a two-run shot.

Cole Kelly added two-run single to create separation in the later innings once more. His base hit to right field Monday followed Pat Kelly's RBI single and was part of a three-run sixth inning.

While Red Wing (17-5) got the clutch hits in the later innings, it struggled at the outset. The Wingers loaded the bases in the first inning with one out and failed to score. They left runners on the corners in the third.

To read more about the Wingers and Boldt, pick up Wednesday's paper.