Class 2A Baseball: Pioneers cruise into state semifinals
Pierz 13, Paynesville 0 The key: The Pioneers cracked 15 hits and Matt Tautges and David Skiba combined to pitch a 3-hit shutout. Overall: Prz 22-4, Pay 16-9 Next: No. 3 Pierz vs. No. 2 Minnehaha Academy in Class 2A state semifinals at St. Cloud ...
The key: The Pioneers cracked 15 hits and Matt Tautges and David Skiba combined to pitch a 3-hit shutout.
Overall: Prz 22-4, Pay 16-9
Next: No. 3 Pierz vs. No. 2 Minnehaha Academy in Class 2A state semifinals at St. Cloud 2:30 p.m. Friday; Pierz/Minnehaha loser vs. No. 1 Belle Plaine/No. 4 Maple Lake loser in third-place game at Dick Putz Field 5 p.m. Friday.
ST. CLOUD-They say it's difficult to beat a team three times in the same season.
The third-seeded Pierz Pioneers debunked that theory when they met unseeded and unranked Paynesville in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state tournament Thursday as it pounded 15 hits and Matt Tautges and David Skiba combined to fire a 3-hitter in a resounding 13-0 victory at Dick Putz Field.
Pierz beat the Bulldogs twice during the regular season by nine runs each time. Pioneers coach Danny Saehr wasn't thrilled by the prospect of playing a Central Minnesota Conference foe a third time.
"I respect every team we play," he said. "But I prefer not to play these guys because (Paynesville coach Brad) Skoglund does a great job over there. Paynesville has a great tradition and it's a conference team.
"Bottom line, we told the kids we've beaten them twice by pretty good scores but if we can come out early and keep striking they might get a little down. I cannot be more proud of the kids. We really swung the bats well today."
Shortstop Lane Girtz led the hit parade going 4-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBIs. Tautges was 3-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. Center fielder Noah Boser was 2-for-2 with a run and five RBIs. Outfielder Michael Meyer 2-for-2 with three runs.
"It seemed like we had the first runner on every time," Girtz said. "Everything trickled down to the other hitters after you. Nobody was getting out it seemed like."
"When everybody hits, it gets contagious," Tautges said. "I think everyone had a hit today. That makes it a lot of fun."
Tautges cruised through four innings raising his record to 7-1. He allowed just two hits-a leadoff sun-aided single to center in the first and a double off right fielder Michael Meyer's glove in the second. Otherwise he struck out seven and walked none.
"My fastball I couldn't really find for a strike," Tautges said, "so the curveball I kept throwing those and I found that for strikes. And, I tried to let the defense work which they did. We had no errors I don't think so that's really helpful when you're pitching."
Tautges retired the last seven Bulldogs he faced in order to chalk up his fourth postseason win.
"We had a couple sun balls early on," Saehr said. "They had a guy at second with one out (in the second), could have gotten a hit and who knows? I know it sounds crazy but they're down 1-0 and it could change the ballgame but we got a double play to the shortstop and Matt was able to work out of a first-inning jam. He's a gamer."
Skiba retired three of the four batters he faced in the fifth.
"Matt's he's been doing it all year," Saehr said, "and big Dave was able to come in and close the door."
The victory moves Pierz into the semifinals against second-seeded and fifth-ranked Minnehaha Academy which handled East Grand Forks 11-2 in Thursday's quarterfinals. The Redhawks have won eight of their last nine and are 25-3. Minnehaha was state runner-up in 2015.
"They're ranked No. 2 in the state, they're the No. 2 seed for a reason," Saehr said. "We got a chance to watch them today. They hit the ball very well. One of their kids is going to play at (North Dakota State). It's a great program there. They've been there, done that. I like to think if we can come out like we did today it will be one heck of a game (Friday)."
The Pioneers, who have won 12 straight games, jumped to 2-0 lead in the first. A wild pitch scored the first run and Boser's sacrifice fly plated the other.
Pierz sent 10 batters to the plate in the second and zipped ahead 6-0. Girtz's run-scoring single started the eruption which included consecutive RBI singles by Boser, Aaron Weber and Matt Kummet.
Girtz and Tautges delivered back-to-back run-scoring singles in the third and Boser's sacriflce fly made it 9-0.
Tautges' RBI single in the fourth followed by Boser's 2-run single brought the mercy rule into effect.
"We beat them by nine both times so it might be easy to overlook them sometimes but I think we came out and did pretty good," Girtz said. "We got on them right away."
Paynesville 000 00- 0 3 1
Pierz 243 4x-13 15 0
Paynesville: Grant Ludwig, Toby Flannigan (2) and Nick Gabrielson.
Pierz: Matt Tautges, David Skiba (5) and Matt Kummet.
WP: Tautges (7-1).
2B: Prz-Michael Meyer; Pay-Ludwig
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .