Irish go out with a thump

St. Patrick shortstop Jack Friedges (11) charged a slow grounder and made an off-balance throw to get the Minnetonka runner at first base late in the Irish’s state playoff game against the Millers Saturday, Sept. 2, in Litchfield. Minnetonka ended St. Patrick’s season with a 16-0 win. (John Mueller photo)

All that stood between St. Patrick’s bid for a berth in the state tournament’s semifinal round Saturday, Sept. 2, was an offensive juggernaut the Irish hoped would have an off day with the bats. It didn’t work out that way.

The Irish fell in eight innings to Minnetonka, 16-0, in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament Saturday morning at Litchfield. With the state board having merged classes A and B, the upstart St. Patrick’s team faced the Millers, a team that pounded out 18 hits, including two home runs and four doubles. The Millers, a perennial Class A powerhouse, scored nine times in the eighth inning, an onslaught bringing the mercy rule into play.

If the pounding wasn’t bad enough, Minnetonka ace pitcher Wyatt Nelson of Hopkins, a pitcher at NCAA Division 1 North Dakota State, limited St. Patrick to a single hit, Kal Brohmer’s single in the fourth inning. Facing 25 St. Patrick hitters in eight innings, Nelson struck out 10 and walked only one Irish hitter.

Given the option of falling in a truncated lopsided rout or in an extra-inning heartbreaker, Irish manager Brent Goracke said his team would likely take the loss in extra innings. “At least that way, we know we were in the game,” he said.

A year ago as a Class C team in the state tournament, St. Patrick enjoyed a walkoff win when Ryan Fridges hit a home run against Avon. The following game, the Irish suffered the same fate when Delano’s Toby Hanson hit a walk-off home run against St. Patrick.

This year, winning all five of their games in August, the Irish finished the season with a 20-11 record overall.

Minnetonka was too much Minnetonka started off the contest slowly, scoring twice in the third inning off starter Ryan Friedges. The Millers added a five spot in the fourth inning, knocking Friedges out of the game. Friedges surrendered eight hits. He struck out two Millers and walked one. Reliever Zak Endres surrendered only two hits over three-plus innings. He walked four and struck out four Millers before his exit.

The Irish saw Minnetonka score nine times in the eighth inning off right-hander Trevor Divinski. With three errors in the frame, four of the runs were earned.

The Class A/B tournament wrapped up with Air Freight Unlimited defeating Minnetonka, 5-2, Sunday, Sept. 3. On the bottom half of the bracket, the Shakopee Indians reached the finals with an 11-3 win over Cold Spring. Air Freight Unlimited defeated the Indians in the championship game, 4-2.

St. Patrick’s Ryan Fridges was named to the Class B all-tournament team.

In Class C, Maple Lake topped Bird Island in the title tilt Monday, Sept. 4, in Delano.

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