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Proctor's state baseball title hopes fall short

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- In the end, Proctor came less than 90 feet from reaching Target Field. The Rails left the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings and couldn't quite match St. Cloud Cathedral's ninth- inning rally Friday at Dick Putz Fie...

Proctor finishes third at state
Proctor first baseman Ryan McCarthy dives back to first after catching a line drive to get a double play on St. Cloud Cathedral baserunner Brian Minks in the Minnesota Class AA baseball semifinals Friday in St. Cloud. (St. Cloud Times)

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- In the end, Proctor came less than 90 feet from reaching Target Field.

The Rails left the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings and couldn't quite match St. Cloud Cathedral's ninth-

inning rally Friday at Dick Putz Field, losing 9-8 and falling short of the Minnesota Class AA high school baseball championship game.

Proctor (19-7) rebounded to beat Fairmont 6-0 and claim third place, while the Crusaders (25-5) advance to Monday's title game against Holy Family Catholic at Target Field.

"It's very tough to know that we had that ability to push that run across and get down to (Target Field)," Rails coach Kyle Wojtysiak said. "Some bounces go your way and some don't. They came up with the timely hit in the ninth and that was the difference."

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Cathedral (24-5), which beat La Crescent for the 2011 state title, gained the upper hand by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth, keyed by Waylon Bemboom's two-run single.

"I struck out twice earlier today so I felt I was due," Benboom said. "I went up there like any other situation and relaxed and did my part."

Brian Minks and Bo Schmitz added run-scoring singles, runs it turned out the Crusaders needed when Proctor responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

"We could have been up by 10 (in the ninth) and they would have scored nine or 10 runs," Bemboom said. "We both played bad enough to lose the game, with all the walks and errors, but that's baseball. I won't apologize for a win."

Paul Hegstrom and Jimmy Merling walked, Ian Scherber singled and Jesse Scanlon's groundout brought in one run in the Proctor half of the ninth. Ryan McCarthy followed with a two-run base hit to cut the lead to 9-8, but Ben Nelson's deep fly to left field ended the game.

"We were one hit away," McCarthy said. "That's how baseball is, you can hit one hard right at them and they catch it or you can hit a blooper and it wins the game. It's a tough game."

Nelson lost control in the fifth, hitting three batters -- mixed in a with a catcher's interference -- as the Crusaders scored four runs with the benefit of only two hits to take a 5-4 lead. Minks' single scored the go-ahead run.

After loading the bases without scoring in the sixth, the Rails scored the tying run in the seventh when Ian Scherber drew a bases-loaded walk. But Proctor again left the bases full when Jimmy Merling popped up to send the game to extra innings.

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Proctor placed two runners on in the eighth but again couldn't get a timely hit. Then came a ninth inning when the teams combined for seven runs and a heart-stopping finish.

"You couldn't have scripted it because it would have been in the category of fantasy and science fiction," Crusaders coach Bob Karn said. "Both teams showed great resiliency, great courage and great tenacity. In terms of the courage, it was tribute to the kids on both teams."

PROCTOR 6, FAIRMONT 0

Ben Nelson hit a bases-loaded double and Ryan McCarthy cranked out a two-run home run to back pitcher Matt Dolsen's six-inning three-hitter in the third-place game at Dick Putz Field.

Dolsen was pitching after the Rails used aces Jake Lewis and Nelson in the first two games. Lewis finished up a 1-2-3 seventh to end the game.

"This win shows a lot about this team's character," Wojtysiak said. "It's very easy to come into that game flat. That's what this team is all about -- they truly don't give up. You don't see many groups of high school kids do that."

Nelson cleared the bases in the third inning and McCarthy put the game out of reach with his fifth homer of the season in the fifth.

Teammate Ian Scherber had won Thursday's quarterfinal game at neighboring Joe Faber Field with a homer in a 1-0 victory over unbeaten Minneapolis Washburn, a moment Scherber was still reliving a day later.

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"It was definitely an emotional feeling," he said. "I rounded first base and saw the ball bounce around and come back into play and I didn't know what happened. Then I saw the ump's hand and he was twirling it for a home run. It took my breath away."

Class AA

Semifinals

At St. Cloud

St. Cloud Cathedral 9, Proctor 8, 9 innings

At Dick Putz Field. WP: Brian Minks 5IP, 4ER, 5H, 2K, 3BB. LP: Jack Nikko 4.2IP, 4ER, 6H, 3K, 3BB in relief of Ben Nelson 4.1IP, 4ER, 2K, 2BB. SCC (24-5): scored 4 runs in 9th; Waylon Bemboom 2RBIs; Minks 3x5, 2RBIs; Michael Kerber 2x3, 3R; Matt Dodge RBI; Bo Schmitz RBI; Tommy McMorrow 2R; Logan Schramel RBI; Steven Neutzling RBI. P (18-7): left bases loaded in 6th and 7th and 14 for the game; Jimmy Merling 2R, RBI; Jesse Scanlon RBI; Ryan McCarthy 2x5, 2RBIs; Ben Nelson RBI; Cody Dolsen 2x5; Paul Hegstrom 2x4, 2R; Evan Scherber RBI; Ian Scherber 2x4, RBI.

Third Place

Proctor 6, Fairmont 0

At Dick Putz Field. WP: Matt Dolsen 6IP, 3H, 2K, 5BB. LP: Luke Becker 4.1IP, 2ER, 7H, 2K, 2BB. P (19-7): Jimmy Merling 2x4; Ryan McCarthy 2x3 (2RBI-HR in 5th), 2R; Ben Nelson 2x3, 3RBIs.

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