Garret Reisz’s walk-off home run happened in a way that you don’t see very often.
In a Class 1-A, District 14 semifinal, St. Albert (29-9) led 12-0 in the bottom of the fourth with two runners on base. With a chance to end the game on the run rule, the senior blasted one over the right-field fence. The outfielders barely moved, and the Falcons moved on to the district final with a 15-0 win over East Mills (9-14) on Thursday night at St. Albert.
The No. 9-ranked Falcons (29-9) will face Essex at 7 p.m. Saturday for the chance to reach substate.
It was clear the game was a mismatch from the start, as the Falcons scored five runs in the first and seven in the fourth.
“We’re trying to focus on just attacking,” St. Albert coach Duncan Patterson said. “We’re going to steal bases, we’re going to get after it on offense. We’re going to put pressure on them. They’re going to have to make the plays. That’s our goal.”
Reisz picked up the win and dominated at the plate by going 2 for 4 with a home run, a double and four RBIs. Freshman Cy Patterson also drove in four runs, and junior Ethan Bernard had a double and two RBIs.
In the first, Bernard opened the game with a double, Reisz had an RBI single and a pair of wild pitches scored three.
Before Reisz’s walk-off in the fourth, senior Alan Powers-Wettestad had a triple to right field and Patterson had a bases-clearing double.
“What’s fun about this group is they feed off each other,” the coach said. “Even if it’s bad, they feed off each other. The good part of it is, if they are hitting the ball, it’s going to trickle down, and Garret is a big part of that.”
Reisz was also dominant on the mound for just over two innings, striking out six of the seven batters he faced and not allowing a single baserunner. Senior Jake Hubbard replaced Reisz in the third and proceeded to strike out all five batters he faced.
After such a high-powered performance, Patterson is preaching to his players to stay the course.
“We just talked about being professional, so we’re going to try and approach everything the same,” Patterson said. “One pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time. So that’s what every kid is going to try and do, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
East Mills (9-14) 000 0 – 0 0 1
St. Albert (29-9) 512 7 – 15 9 0
W: Garret Reisz. L: Jack Anderson. 2B: SA, Ethan Bernard, Cy Patterson, Reisz, Carson Kress 2. 3B: SA, Alan Powers-Wettestad. HR: SA, Reisz.
Essex 14, Bedford 12
Essex baseball coach Jay Soderberg has been waiting for his team to prove it can perform in the clutch. With their season on the line and their backs against the wall on Thursday, the Trojans delivered.
Essex (6-14) rallied twice in the Class 1-A, District 14 semifinal at St. Albert, beating Bedford 14-12 with an impressive seventh inning and a dominant fourth.
Trailing 5-0 after three, Essex scored eight runs to take control. But after the Bulldogs (4-18) regained the lead with three runs each in the fourth and fifth innings, the Trojans had to do it all over.
And they did, thanks to a pair of hit batsmen, a Bedford error and a wild pitch.
Senior Shane Franks was 2 for 3 with two RBIs to lead Essex. Junior Luke Dalley was 1 for 2 with a double, two walks and three RBIs, and sophomore Colton Thornburg was 2 for 4 with a run driven in. Dalley picked up the win in relief and Bedford senior Damien Henry took the loss.
The Trojans will face top-seeded St. Albert on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I’ve been asking for (the clutch play) the last couple years,” Soderberg said. “First inning we had two on, went down in order after that and last year in this game we had the bases loaded in the first two innings and got nobody home. So I said it’s nice to see them come through in those clutch situations.”
Seniors Chase Guthrie and Shane Franks each reached on walks to start the rally in the top of the seventh, and original starter Henry re-entered the game. An infield single by Jacob Hammers loaded the bases, and Dalley was hit by a pitch to score the first run of the comeback.
An error on a grounder tied it up at 12-12, and a hit batsman gave the Trojans the lead at 13-12. A wild pitch made it 14-12.
With their two best pitchers in Franks and junior Dan Ohnmacht unavailable, the Trojans turned to Dalley to close out the game on the mound. Dalley forced a pair of pop-ups and a groundout that the pitcher snagged near third base. He made the long throw to first to end the game.
In the fourth, a double by Dalley scored three runs and a single by senior Aaron Whitslar scored another.
With one more game to go in districts, the Trojans know anything can happen.
“We’re always the underdogs,” Soderberg said. “I told my team just to play hard and you never know what’s going to happen. We’re just coming out to play. It’s a big game for us, but the boys will be excited and ready to go.”
Essex (6-14) 000 811 4 – 14 9 3
Bedford (4-18) 131 331 0 – 12 11 4
W: Luke Dalley. L: Damien Henry. 2B: B, Brennan Sefrit, Alex Johnson, Trevor Edwards; E, Luke Dalley.