With an error on the opening play, the Section 8-4A semifinals didn't start well for the No. 2 seeded Brainerd Warriors Thursday, May 23.
And it didn't get much better.
The No. 3 seeded St. Michael-Albertville Knights belted four home runs, including a three-run shot, to knock the Warriors into the loser's bracket with a 10-0 victory at Adamson Field in Brainerd.
"Our captains were great in the circle after the game," Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. "They said all the right things. We can draw from our past experiences with this team and from experiences in our past within our program. Last year, we lost in the first round 7-0 at Elk River. We fought all the way back through the loser's bracket and played for a section championship. There is no reason why we can't do that and respond to adversity."
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STMA 10, Warriors 0
- Key: The Knights belted four home runs.
- Overall: Brd 16-5, STMA 17-5.
- Next: No. 2 Brainerd vs. No. 5 Moorhead in Section 8-4A loser's bracket at St. Michael 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 28.
- For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/2VIozCA
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Elle Potts was an RBI machine as she drove in a run in the first inning on a single and later scored on Erin Gilbert's home run to hand the Knights a 3-0 lead.
Potts then stepped to the plate with two runners on and smoked an offering to right center field. Gilbert followed with a single and two batters later scored on Hannah Greeno's sacrifice fly for a 7-0 Knights' edge after the fifth.
Potts was up to plate in the next inning and dropped a two-run homer over the fence. Molly Wilde made it consecutive homers with a solo shot for STMA's 10 runs.
"We started out at the beginning of the season we were hitting really, really well," said Knights head coach Kellie Shumway. "We kind of started to slump and the whole team slumped together. We've worked really hard over the past few weeks to get out of it. We've done a lot of hitting practices and things like that and the girls have responded well. They started a few games ago getting the bats back and this game, obviously, we had some great at bats by our girls."
Potts finished 4-4 with a double, three runs and six RBIs. Wilde was 1-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI and Gilbert was 2-4 with two RBIs and a run.
Abby Kemmetmueller doubled for the Knights, who were unphased by any of the three Warrior pitchers Brainerd threw at them.
Abby Pelowski started and lasted two innings. She allowed three runs, none earned, on two hits and two walks.
Emma Tautges pitched three innings. She allowed four runs on four hits and three walks. She struck out one.
Olivia Tautges struck out one as well in her one inning of relief. She allowed three runs on two hits-both home runs.
"We knew they were super aggressive at the plate," Jordan said. "We just tried to trust our pitches and hit our spots. You just have to give them credit. Gosh, they hit the ball hard. I don't care if the ball is sitting on a tee, it's still hard to hit the ball really hard."
STMA's Elise Weinzerl struck out five, walked two and scattered five hits over her six innings of work.
"Elise does a great job of changing speeds," Shumway said. "She just kind of moves the ball and changes to a lot of different speeds. She did a really nice job and we know Brainerd is a great hitting team so we talked about that before the game. She adjusted well and with our catcher, Erin Gilbert, did a really nice job of throwing the ball."
For the Warriors, Jenna Meyer opened the first inning with a double and moved to third on Kasia Kroll's sacrifice. Clare Ceynowa walked to put runners on the corners, but that's where they remained.
Jordyn Sullivan and Olivia Hoelz both singled in the fourth inning, but the Warriors couldn't manufacture a run.
Brainerd loaded the bases in the sixth after Zakia Herron smacked a double followed by Kroll's single and another Ceynowa walk. Sullivan then popped out to center to end the threat.
The Warriors grounded out three straight times in the bottom of the sixth to end the game.
"Their pitcher did a good job of hitting her spots and moving the ball inside and outside," Jordan said. "We talked yesterday, we talked about how we're going to be aggressive and how we're going to go up there and we're going to go hit the ball. I think we were a little wishy washy. I would have liked to have seen us be more aggressive. I think we were a little passive."
Brainerd falls into the Section 8-4A loser's bracket, where they'll face No. 5 seeded Moorhead Tuesday, May 28. Top-seeded Elk River fell to Buffalo 4-1 Thursday, May 23. The Elks will play No. 6 seeded St. Cloud Tech. If the Warriors win they'll face the winner of Elk River and Tech, also Tuesday.
Those three games, along with STMA vs. Buffalo, will all be played in St. Michael.
For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/2VIozCA.
STMA 10 8 0
Brainerd 0 5 1
WP: Elise Weinzerl. LP: Abby Pelowski. 2B: Brd-Zakia Herron, Jenna Meyer; STMA-Abby Kemmetmueller, Elle Potts. HR: STMA-Potts 2, Molly Wilde, Erin Gilbert. Sac: Brd-Kasia Kroll, STMA-Hannah Greeno.