Class 2A Baseball: Tautges pitches, hits Pioneers to state title game
Pierz 1, Duluth 0 The key: Matt Tautges tosses 4-hit shutout, delivers walk-off single in bottom of seventh for Pioneers Overall: Prz 26-2, DM 19-6 Next: No. 3-seeded Pierz vs. No. 1 Minnehaha Academy for Class 2A state championship, Target Field...
The key: Matt Tautges tosses 4-hit shutout, delivers walk-off single in bottom of seventh for Pioneers
Overall: Prz 26-2, DM 19-6
Next: No. 3-seeded Pierz vs. No. 1 Minnehaha Academy for Class 2A state championship, Target Field, Minneapolis, 1 p.m. Monday.
ST. CLOUD-It was the kind of performance every player dreams about.
Pierz senior right-hander Matt Tautges capped off a four-hit shutout by delivering a two-out walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh to give the third-seeded Pioneers a 1-0 victory over the Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers in the semifinals of the Class 2A state tournament Friday at Putz Field.
The win advances Pierz to the state championship game for the first time in program history. The Pioneers will face defending 2A champion Minnehaha Academy 1 p.m. Monday at Target Field in Minneapolis.
"Unfortunately, and fortunately, we're getting really used to these kinds of games," said Pierz head coach Danny Saehr. "I asked the kids on the way here-'Do you have the "it" factor?' I'm not sure what the 'it' factor is, but they just find a way and they refuse to lose. When you have that mentality, you're tough to beat. It's an honor to be moving on."
Both pitchers went the distance in a classic duel. Duluth's Derrick Winn struck out eight and walked walked only two while allowing five hits. Tautges only struck out three and walked just one while giving up four hits. He retired eight consecutive batters in the fourth through sixth innings.
"I was starting to hit my spots," said Tautges. "(Catcher Matt) Kummet and I were getting in the groove and we knew what pitches we wanted every inning, what pitch we wanted thrown and that made it kind of easy."
"That's just Matt," said Saehr. "He's done this for us for two years and what an unbelievable time for a four-hit shutout in the state semifinals to pitch our way to Target Field. It's only fitting that he came up and got the game-winning hit.
"What a game! What a game!"
The offensive excitement for both teams came in the seventh inning.
Duluth started the top of the inning with the third and fourth hits allowed by Tautges. Winn laced a first-pitch single to left and stole second. Ben Pedersen followed with a single to short left that saw Winn hold up at third. Pedersen stole second uncontested before another pitch was thrown.
Pierz shortstop Preston Rocheleau made a leaping grab of a Carter Sullivan liner for the first out, keeping a runner from scoring. An intentional walk to Joey Peters, the only free pass issue by Tautges, loaded the bases.
Cole Maccoux struck out swinging, but not before hitting a long foul fly to right field that Luke Girtz alertly let drop at his feet to keep the runner at third from tagging. Maddux Baggs grounded out unassisted to Jackson Suska at third to end the Hilltoppers' threat.
The Pioneers got runners to second five times, but didn't advance any until Tautges' winning hit in the bottom of the stanza.
With one out, Brandon Dickman was hit by a pitch and Reese Kapsner came in to run for Dickman. Kapsner stole second after pinch-hitter Thomas Funk struck out bunting a third strike foul. Jackson Suska walked to set up the walk-off by Tautges, a fly that short-hopped Sullivan in right field.
"Earlier in the year I was in a bad slump against Holdingford," said Tautges. "I came up with a similar situation and got the winning hit that got me out of that game. This time I just wanted to get the ball in play, hit it hard and expect good things to happen. I didn't know that it would drop. I thought it would hang in the air."
Lane Girtz had two of the Pioneers' five hits. Kummet and Luke Girtz also singled in addition to Tautges.
Last year, Minnehaha defeated Pierz 4-2 in the semifinals. Pierz bounced back to beat Maple Lake 11-4 for third place. The only other state appearance for the Pioneers came in 1986.
Minnehaha advanced to this year's title game by rallying to defeat Maple Lake 8-3, scoring six runs in the final two innings.
"At the beginning of the year, we looked up at the banner and thought, let's get another one to go with last year," said Tautges. "Now we're going even further and we're looking forward to a rematch with Minnehaha. We'll see how it goes."
Duluth 000 000 0-0 4 0
Pierz 000 000 1-1 5 1
Duluth Derrick Winn and Nick Semaan (7)
Pierz : Matt Tautges and Matt Kummet (7)
WP: Matt Tautges. (11-1) LP: Derrick Winn (6-3).