THIEF RIVER FALLS -- Brenden Bethke's power game was on here Thursday -- not so much with his pitching arm but with his bat.
The senior hit and pitched Sacred Heart to a repeat championship in the Minnesota Section 8A high school baseball tournament. The Eagles beat Fosston 3-0 in the title game to advance to next week's state tournament.
Bethke pitched a 2-hitter. He struck out five batters, about half of what he averages this season. He also put the Eagles ahead to stay at 1-0 with a home run in the first inning. The right-handed hitting Bethke’s line drive hit the top of the fence in left field and bounced over for his first homer of the season.
"I knew I got a good piece of it when I hit it,'' Bethke said.
The 13-8 Eagles didn't hit a home run all season until hitting three in their last two games. Cullen Rohrich had two home runs in the Eagles' previous game.
"We started building confidence the last few games,'' Eagles coach Paul Bethke said of the sudden home-run power. "We've been taking extra cuts. Line drives can turn into home runs. Why they're turning into home runs now, I don't know. But I'll take it.''
Bethke's home run proved to be the lone run the right-hander needed. He allowed only two hits -- an Evan Chalich single in the second inning and a Noah Mahlen double in the seventh. Fosston managed only four baserunners and didn't advance a runner past second base.
"I didn't have my best stuff,'' Brenden Bethke said. "I grinded out the first few innings. I couldn't find the (strike) zone later. I'll take (the outcome) any day of the week. I'm happy with the way it turned out.''
Said Paul Bethke: "He didn't have his strikeout stuff. But I'm OK with that. He had a plan and finished it off. He's done it before. He adjusts and finds a way.''
The Eagles added two runs on three hits and an error in the sixth, with Rohrich getting the big hit when he singled home a run.
Fosston right-hander Treydon Boushee allowed only six hits, two of them by Oscar Ortiz, and two earned runs, striking out five.
"He pitched really well,'' Fosston coach Ryan Hanlon said. "He threw a lot of strikes and kept them off balance. He gave us a shot to win and that's all we asked of him.’’
Against Bethke, whom Hanlon called one of the best pitchers in the state, that wasn't enough after Bethke staked himself to an early lead.
"That was really big,'' Hanlon said. "It allowed them to settle in and just play, to relax.''
Fosston closed with a 16-7 record. The Greyhounds were in the section title game for the third straight season, last winning the championship in 2017.