By Mike Marsnik
The Chanhassen Red Birds survived a ninth inning scare, but held on to beat the Moorhead Brewers 4-2 Friday night at Joe Schleper Stadium in Shakopee. John Straka got the win, his third of the tournament. He spread four hits over nine innings, walking two, hitting one and fanning eight. That last strikeout came in the top of the ninth with two on and two out.
The Brewers opened the scoring in the top of the second. Joe Hallock led off with a double to right field. Two outs later, Brandt Kolpak plated Hallock with a hit up the middle.
The Red Birds answered in the next half-inning with two runs of their own. Nick Smith led off with a bunt single. Brandon Arnold hit a grounder to short, which Nick Salentine tossed to second, but not in time to get Smith. Kolpak, playing second, dropped the toss and was charged with an error on the play. Moorhead starter David Ernst then walked Michael Jurgella to load the bases. Zach Hoffmann, hitting in the 3-slot, hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Smith. Arnold took third on the throw. Jurgella took off for second, drawing a high throw from catcher Chandler Ibach. Arnold raced home on that throw, completing the delayed double steal.
Aaron Pfaff led off the sixth with a single, went to second on a passed ball and to third on a sacrifice bunt by Smith. Arnold plated him with a single to left, giving the Red Birds a 3-1 advantage.
Chanhassen added another run in the eighth with a two-out rally. Arnold singled, Jurgella walked and Hoffmann slapped an RBI-single to right, driving in Arnold.
The Brewers made it interesting in the ninth. Hallock drew a one-out walk and took second without a throw. Mike Peschel popped out. Kolpak hit a single into the gap in right-center to score Hallock, making the score 4-2. Straka plunked Ibach on a 0-1 pitch, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the person of pinch-hitter Grant Wehseler. With the count at 2-2, both Brewer runners took off, but Wehseler swung and missed to end the game.
Arnold, the Red Birds’ manager, shortstop and leadoff hitter, scored two runs on a 2-for-5 night. Hoffmann was 1-for-4 with two RBI. Smith went 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt and scored a run. Aaron Pfaff was 2-for-4 and scored what turned out to be the winning run in the sixth.
The Brewers are not done. They play the winner of Saturday’s Miesville-Cold Spring game. Chanhassen, two-time defending state champs, await the winner of the loser’s bracket and will have to be beaten twice. They have now rolled off 20 straight wins.