--by Louie Opatz, MBA freelance writer
Two-hundred and twenty-two pitches may have been the threshold for Moorhead ace Tanner Dahl. After tossing 18 innings on Friday and snagging two wins in two games for the Brewers, the Moorhead righty looked mortal against Miesville on Monday, as the Mudhens pounded out nine hits and scored five times against Dahl to win 6-3 and claim the team’s sixth Class ‘B’ state title.
Miesville wasted no time getting to Dahl. After Mudhens starter Steve Maher held the Brewers scoreless in the top of the first, Miesville leadoff hitter Charles Bruchu singled sharply over Moorhead second baseman Chris Coste to open the bottom of the second. After a Dahl wild pitch moved Bruchu to second, Moorhead catcher Tanner Adam errantly threw behind Bruchu at second to move the third baseman to third base with nobody out.
Miesville right fielder Spencer Merle was unable to get Bruchu in — Dahl struck out the righty, looking — but Mudhens shortstop Deryk Marks picked up his teammate with a deep drive past Brewers right fielder Tom Fuchs and hustled his way to an RBI triple.
Mudhens catcher Nate Hammes promptly did his job, grounding out to second base to drive in Marks and give Miesville an early 2-0 lead. Miesville second baseman Brian Sprout started the bottom of the second out with a sharp single to right-center, and first baseman Andrew Werner smacked a first-pitch single to left to give the Mudhens runners on first and second. After Miesville designated hitter Zach Laffey struck out swinging, left fielder Jordy Horsch smoked a base hit to center to drive in Sprout for a 3-0 edge.
Maher rolled through the Brewers in the top of the third, as the St. Thomas graduate notched a true Snapper Mow ‘em Down inning: Moorhead’s Matt Oye, Spencer Flaten and Mike Peschel all went down swinging.
In the bottom half, Marks made his mark against Dahl. Marks, an Augustana graduate — who was named tournament MVP after the ‘Hens win — clubbed a laser-beam home run to left field and punctuated the bomb with a bombastic bat flip. Marks’ solo home run gave Miesville a 4-0 lead that remained the championship game score until the bottom of the sixth, when Sprout lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Hammes and give Miesville a commanding 5-0 lead.
Maher continued to roll through the Brewers’ lineup and was aided big double plays that got him out of trouble in both the sixth and eighth innings. Marks kept on raking in the eighth, when he opened the bottom half of the inning with a line-shot down the left-field line. Hammes took a curveball the other way, grounding out to first, to advance Marks to third base with just one out. Miesville center fielder Matt Van Der Bosch did his job, singling down the right-field line to plate Marks and put the Mudhens up 6-0 entering the ninth.
The Brewers finally got to Maher in the bottom of the ninth: first baseman Mike Peschel singled to left and third baseman Derek Dormanen walked to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Moorhead designated hitter Chris Clemenson delivered the big blow the Brewers desperately needed, skying a three-run homer to left-center to bring Moorhead within three runs – still with no-one out.
Miesville brought in another St. Thomas grad, Chris Olean, to relieve Maher and face former big-leaguer Chris Coste. The 43-year-old ex-Phillie hit a hard liner to first that Miesville first baseman Andrew Werner dove to snag and tally the first out of the inning. After Tanner Adam flew out and Tom Fuchs doubled to right-center, Olean induced a groundout from Moorhead’s Jeremy Peschel to clinch the Mudhens’ sixth state title.
Maher tossed eight innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs to pick up the win, and Olean pitched a scoreless frame to earn the save. Marks, the tourney MVP, posted a double, triple and home run in four at-bats, posting nine total bases. Third baseman Charles Bruchu went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored from the top of the order to aid the cause.
Mike Peschel went 2-for-4 with a run to tally the Brewers’ only multi-hit game, and Clemenson’s home run provided all of Moorhead’s runs. Dahl threw six innings, striking out two, walking one and allowing nine hits and five runs to get saddled with the season-ending loss.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PHOTO ALBUM (coming soon)