Sleepy Eye denied South Ridge an appearance in its first Minnesota Class A state baseball championship game by beating the Panthers 4-1 in a semifinal Friday at Chaska Athletic Park.
The second-seeded Indians, who are making their fourth title-game appearance, will face No. 1 Heritage Christian Academy at 10 a.m. today in the first of four championship games at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Junior catcher Nathan Walter and senior center fielder Carter Brinkman were each 2-for-4 for the Indians (18-5), who finished with nine hits. Sleepy Eye manufactured three runs in a decisive third inning by piecing together four hits and taking advantage of an error. Brinkman opened the scoring with an RBI double.
Sleepy Eye junior pitcher Jacob Berg surrendered two hits, walked two and struck out 14 in coming within one out of a complete game.
Junior catcher Joey Janke and sophomore pitcher Mason Lane had the lone hits for No. 3 South Ridge, which scored its only run in the fifth on an error with the bases loaded. A groundout ended the threat on the next at-bat.
Parkers Prairie scored nine runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a 4-4 tie and win the Class A third-place game at Chaska Athletic Park.
To open the seventh, players from Parkers Prairie - like South Ridge known as the Panthers - doubled, singled, walked, singled and reached on a hit by pitch to make it 7-4. Six more runs came home on two singles, two walks, a wild pitch a three-run Travis Yohnke double.
Joey Janke hit a two-run triple to put South Ridge (20-7) into a 4-4 tie in the fifth.
The Cardinals (14-7) scored at least a run in each of the first six innings to defeat the Thunderhawks in a consolation semifinal at Reynolds Field at the University of Northwestern in Roseville, Minn.
Willmar starting pitcher Brady Bauman worked out of bases-loaded jams in each of the first two innings as the Cardinals built an early lead.
Grand Rapids (10-16) suffered a pickoff at third base and struck out to end the first inning, then grounded out with the bases loaded to end the second.
Willmar’s Brady Bauman tossed a five-hitter and struck out eight, allowing only an unearned run in the sixth on a two-base error in the outfield.
Willmar first baseman Jack Baumgart had two doubles and an RBI and second baseman Zak Madsen also went 2-for-3, scoring twice and driving in a run.