Prep baseball: South Ridge falls to East Grand Forks Sacred Heart in state quarterfinal
The Panthers will face New Ulm Cathedral in the consolation bracket at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Sauk Rapids.
ST. CLOUD — For a brief moment it looked as if South Ridge had seized the momentum in the Panthers’ Class A state quarterfinal baseball game against Sacred Heart Tuesday at Joe Faber Field.
South Ridge had fallen behind 5-0 in the first two innings of play and had used two pitchers, but by the time the top of the fourth inning was done, they only trailed the Eagles 6-4.
Sacred Heart responded with three runs of its own, including two walked in by pitcher Christian Pretasky. The Eagles went on to win 10-4 and advance to the state semifinal.
“If you had told me we had nine hits, I thought we would have won for sure,” South Ridge coach Aaron Weber said. “We hit the ball really well and that’s something we’ve been really up and down on this year. That’s probably the second most hits we’ve had all year, but we’ve relied on our three pitchers to be really good for us all year. Today, they just struggled and hats off to Sacred Heart, they put the ball in play with two strikes. They had some really big hits and a couple of things didn’t go our way.”
Each time South Ridge scored, the Eagles answered with the same number of runs. When Aydin Archambault hit a nearly 400-foot home run in the top of the third, Sacred Heart answered with a manufactured run in the bottom half. When the Panthers plated three in the top of the fourth on RBIs from Aaron Bennett and Josiah DeLoach, Sacred Heart plated three of its own — including the two runs walked in by Pretasky.
“I would say today was definitely one of my better pitching performances,” Eagles pitcher Sam Gapp said. “They were a really good hitting team, maybe the top hitting team we faced … They could really hit the ball with two strikes. I struggled with that, I found my strike zone and then on 0-2, 1-2 counts they still hit the ball.”
The highlight of the game for South Ridge was Archambault’s blast in the third inning.
“I just went up there to just make contact with the ball and that was the only thing on my mind — contact, contact,” Archambault said. “I haven’t had the best hitting season so far, but as soon as I swung that bat and the ball went off it, I just knew it was gone. All the way up there it was a perfect hit and there’s nothing better than hitting a home run at state.”
Gapp allowed nine hits over six innings and struck out six batters, but when he struggled in the fourth inning, Sacred Heart coach Paul Bethke trusted his pitcher, sending him back out for the fifth.
"He’s a competitor in every sport he plays and I knew he wanted to fight through it,” Bethke said. “You can’t just leave him out there forever, but he was able to get out of the inning. Of course we talked to him after it and I could tell by the look in his eye he wanted to go back out there. He said his arm was fine and right then I knew, 'Ok, yes, you have earned that over your career.’ He pitched a great game, they’re just a really good hitting team.”
Sacred Heart (22-3) will face Hayfield in the Class A semifinal Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Joe Faber field.
“(Hayfield’s) so good in a lot of areas of their game, so we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Bethke said. “We do what we need to do and then we see what happens. I told the guys we believe in you and they believe in themselves. If they play a complete game, it’s going to be a good battle.”
South Ridge (17-8) isn’t done quite yet. They will face New Ulm Cathedral in the consolation bracket Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Sauk Rapids.
“Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we’d hoped, but we have the chance to go and finish the year with wins,” Weber said. “We didn’t get to do that last year because they didn’t have a a consolation bracket. It’s hard to get respect when you go out and play like this, but we can go get respect by going out and winning the consolation bracket.”