By Adam J.S. Holt
The Red Birds asked a simple question going into Monday’s games: Why not us?
A year ago, Chanhassen ran into a Miesville team on the last day of the Class B state tournament that was intent on winning two games and a second straight title. This year, with the roles reversed, it was Chanhassen taking the Monday doubleheader, with a 7-4 clinching win over Miesville to claim the 2018 Class B championship.
Justin Anderson, the tournament MVP, hit a go-ahead single in the seventh and Derek Smith followed with a two-run single to break a 4-4 tie and help ensure the Red Birds’ first state title, at Joe Schleper Stadium in Shakopee, and thwart Miesville’s bid to win a third straight championship.
Earlier, Chanhassen won 6-1 to force a winner-take-all game.
“It’s the culmination of just guys working together and really picking each other up,” manager Mike Ralston said. “It’s all about the next guy in baseball; there’s so much failure. And these guys just thrived on picking each other up.”
Miesville’s Matt Van Der Bosch hit a two-run double with two outs in the top of the seventh to tie the game 4-4. Chanhassen responded in the bottom of the inning with three runs.
Garrett Fischer, Riley Johnson and Zach Hoffmann all reached to begin the bottom of the seventh, and chase Deryk Marks from the game. Chris Olean came in and gave up a ground-ball single through the right side to Anderson, putting the Red Birds up 5-4.
“I was just trying to hit the ball as hard as I could,” Anderson said. “If you hit it on the ground, you hope it gets through. I was sitting offspeed, he threw me a curveball, I hit it as hard as I could and it got through.”
A runner interference call cost Chanhassen an out, but Smith’s hit to right drove in two more to make it 7-4.
“They’re an incredible team,” Ralston said of Miesville. “To beat them, that means you played really good baseball. So I woudn’t call it revenge. I would say our guys looked inside themselves. We had some adversity with a couple of calls, and Derek Smith says, ‘Coach, I got ya,’ and he laces a two-run RBI. Everybody’s got everybody’s back.”
Kyle Fischer, who rarely pitched for Chanhassen all year, went all nine innings, and got three strikeouts around a two-out walk in the ninth to finish a complete-game win. The game before, Miles Nablo went nine innings to help the Red Birds play a Game 2.
“It’s just gutsy,” Ralston said. “Miles gave up a run or two in the first inning, then found his stuff and just shut them down. And then Kyle was just like, ‘Give me the ball and don’t take me out.’ If I had gone to the mound, I think he’d have punched me in the face.”
Nine men came to the plate in the bottom of the first, and four scored for Chanhassen. Riley Johnson and Hoffmann hit RBI singles, and Derek Smith and Matt Smith added on with a single and sacrifice fly, respectively, to push the lead to 4-0 after one against Steve Maher.
Maher came out of the game after 1 1/3 innings, replaced by Deryk Marks.
Marks hit a two-run home run in the fourth to cut the lead to 4-2.
Chanhassen lost 3-2 to Miesville Saturday and had to win against Moorhead Sunday to get back to Monday’s championship. And much like the Mudhens did to them last year, the Red Birds found a way to win two straight when it counted. Seeing it happen in 2017 let the Red Birds know it was more than doable.
“Exactly,” Anderson said. “We had the one extra game and I think that built us some confidence and kept us sharp.”
Fischer gave up four runs, three earned on five hits and two walks, striking out eight. In the two games Monday, Fischer had four hits, four runs and two walks; Johnson had three hits, three runs, a walk and an RBI; Hoffman had four hits, three runs, a walk and four RBI; and Anderson had three hits, a run, a walk and three RBI.
The last two state Class B tournaments have seen Miesville and Chanhassen go 3-3 against each other, with each team claiming a title.
“We came into today and said we’ll win the first one, and we’ll win the second one. Miesville did it [last year],” Ralston said. “[My guys] were determined and they played for each other.”
Chanhassen 6, Miesville 1
Chanhassen needed a win to keep its Class B state title hopes alive, and did so, in a 6-1 game over Miesville Monday at Joe Schleper Stadium in Shakopee. Miesville could have clinched its third straight championship, but Chanhassen put together a pair of three-run innings and stymied the Mudhens’ hitting.
Last year, it was Miesville that came up through the loser’s bracket and won two over Chanhassen to take the title. This time, Chanhassen forced the winner-take-all second game.
Trailing 1-0 as the top of the sixth started, Chanhassen got three straight two-out doubles, then a single from Justin Anderson to take a 3-1 lead. Garrett Fischer, Riley Johnson and Zach Hoffman hit the doubles, finally getting to Miesville starter Shannon Ahern.
The Red Birds scored three more in the eighth against reliever Connor Malcolm. Hoffman and Anderson delivered RBI doubles, and Matt Smith hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1.
Miesville left 10 men on base. The Mudhens scored on an RBI single from Nate Hammes in the first, but he ran into the final out of the frame at home trying to score on a double by Austin Murr. Miesville had two on and one out in the third and fourth innings, and stranded another two in the fifth.
Chanhassen starter Miles Nablo scattered 10 hits, allowing one run over nine innings with no walks and four strikeouts.
2018 Class B All-Tournament Team
Justin Anderson, Chanhassen
Garrett Fischer, Chanhassen
Zach Hoffmann, Chanhassen
Riley Johnson, Chanhassen
Logan Spitzack, Chanhassen
Brad Goulet, Miesville
Jordy Horsch, Miesville
Matt Van Der Bosch, Miesville
Nick Bornhauser, Northfield
Jake Mathison, Northfield
Aldon Severson, Northfield
Denver Blinn, Moorhead
Tanner Dahl, Moorhead
Tyler Jones, Dundas
Jordan Barth, Cold Spring
MVP: Justin Anderson, Chanhassen, .480 Avg, 12-for-25, 5 runs, 11 RBIs, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 walks
Photos by Adam J.S. Holt