DES MOINES - Bishop Garrigan's title dreams slipped away in the blink of an eye Thursday night.
Leading by two runs and just one out short of a trip to the finals, the top-seeded Golden Bears (37-9 overall) were unable to hold off a furious rally by No. 4 seed and two-time defending state champion Martensdale St. Mary's (39-5) in a crushing 7-3, eight-inning Class 1A semifinal loss at Principal Park.
"We can't be disappointed with the effort -?just the final outcome," BGHS co-head coach Rob Meister said. "Hopefully, our kids coming back will want to get back (to Des Moines) and are itching to do it again."
Workhorse senior right-hander Austin Vaske (11-2) suffered the setback on the mound for fourth-ranked Garrigan. The Iowa Central recruit went the distance for the second consecutive state game and fourth straight in tournament play.
Vaske, who retired the first nine Blue Devils he faced and took a no-hitter into the fifth, yielded nine hits and seven earned runs with two walks and eight strikeouts. After limiting the dangerous MSM lineup to only one hit through its first 21 at-bats, the No. 3 Blue Devils rose to the occasion and exploded for eight hits in their last 14 plate appearances, including three straight with two down in the top of the seventh.
"For just two days rest, I was surprised by how well I actually felt," said Vaske, who pitched 30 of the 43 postseason innings for Garrigan. "The tough part was losing on a curveball when you're a fastball pitcher."
MARTENSDALE ST. MARY'S 7, BISHOP GARRIGAN 3 (8 Inn.)
Martensdale St. Mary's 000 000 25-7 9 1
Bishop Garrigan 002 000 01-3 7 1
Eddy Kraber (W, 10-0; 8 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) and Zeb Noel; Austin Vaske (L, 11-2; 8 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) and Alex Boisjolie.
2B-MSM: David Walker, Robert Walker; BG: Reece Wadle. 3B-MSM: Noel; BG: Boisjolie. SH-BG: Zach Keith, Andrew McGuire. SB-MSM: Trent Dooley, Blake Sweet. LOB-MSM: 3; BG: 7. DP-BG: 1.
Vaske induced a harmless pop out to third and notched a strikeout swinging, before running into a late jam. Facing the brink of elimination, MSM received a RBI double to center field from Robert Walker and a run-scoring single to right by Josh Defenbaugh.
Both hits barely eluded the Golden Bear fielders.
With all the momentum shifting in their favor, the opportunistic Blue Devils batted around and delivered the knockout blow with five scores in the eighth.
"(Principal Park) is Martensdale's home, and (winning) is what they do," said Vaske, who racked up 124 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings on the year. "We knew we'd have to play their game.
"I'd still take our team against anyone, any day. We just fell a little short (Thursday)."
John Burns, a junior and No. 5 hitter, pushed the Golden Bears in front early with a two-run single to left with one out in the third. Garrigan's other tally came on a RBI single to center from junior Andrew McGuire in the eighth.
"This (loss) was obviously a tough way for us to go out, but (MSM) is a good team and just got their bats going in the last couple innings," Burns said. "It was an honor to play at (Principal Park)."
Freshman Reece Wadle and senior Alex Boisjolie each went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff and cleanup spots, respectively, in the Golden Bear order.
Wadle also made a highlight-reel over the shoulder running catch in deep center to rob the Blue Devils of a potential extra-base hit in the sixth. Garrigan turned a smooth 4-6-3 twin killing as well to end the fourth
"The wind held (the ball) up a little, and I was able to track it down," Wadle said of his sparkling play. "We played well, but just couldn't hold on at the end."
Walker, a senior shortstop, contributed two hits, two RBI and a run scored for MSM.
Picking up the complete game victory was sophomore Eddy Kraber (10-0), who scattered seven hits, two earned runs, two walks and eight strikeouts.
Zack Keith, Boisjolie, Grant Reding and Vaske all wrapped up their career for the North Central Conference champion Golden Bears, who won 23 of their last 26 contests.
This summer's state berth was only the second in school history for Garrigan, which previously settled for 2A runner-up honors in 1999.
Martensdale St. Mary's, which saw its nation's second longest all-time win streak snapped at 88 games earlier this season, will now take a 19-game victory streak into Saturday's 1A title clash with No. 2 seed and top-ranked Mason City Newman (35-4). First pitch is set for 2 p.m.
The Knights ousted No. 6 seed and sixth-ranked Lisbon in last evening's other semifinal, 7-3.