Gaels pass first test
ALGONA — The St. Edmond baseball team found themselves in a difficult situation here Tuesday night vs. West Bend-Mallard.
Senior ace Jake Szalat had just surrendered four runs to the Wolverines in the first two innings on six hits.
But Szalat dug deep, and the rest of his teammates followed, as the Gaels rallied for a 9-6 victory in a Class 1A, District 3 quarterfinal.
Szalat went just over four innings in all, striking out five batters for St. Edmond (12-10 overall). He also extended his streak of reaching base to 14 games, going 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch.
Nick Bennett had two hits and scored three runs, Cael Kolacia and Jed Tracy each scored twice, with Connor Bocken, Noah Carlson and Jackson Kochendorfer driving in one run each.
Jeremiah Wheeler, the other senior alongside Szalat on the roster, drove in two runs and started a game-ending double-play that also included Carlson and Szalat.
“It’s always good to be moving on,” SEHS head coach Mike Szalat said. “I’m glad we used the pitchers we used and I’m not second-guessing myself at all right now. I’ve thought about what we were going to do in the postseason since the day I got the job.”
“We live to see another day.”
That will come Thursday when the Gaels return here to take on Bishop Garrigan (20-12) at 7 p.m. The Golden Bears topped Storm Lake St. Mary’s last night.
For the Wolverines (6-15), Cole Hoskins was 4-for-4 with a triple, a double, three runs scored and an RBI. Cole Thilges had two hits, and both Nick Ford and Danie Riesenberg drove in a pair.
Kochendorfer came on to finish out the final three innings and earn the save, getting out of situations in the fourth and seventh.
“We could have went with someone else and saved Jackson for Thursday, but I went out there and asked both Jake and Jeremiah and they said to focus on (Tuesday) first,” Szalat said. “Jackson said he wanted to get the final outs so we went with it.
“Jackson’s an easy-going kid, but he’s a competitor and wanted that ball.”
St. Edmond plated three runs in the second to close the gap, as Kochendorfer ripped a double that scored Bennett. Wheeler drove in Tracy next and Carlson plated Kochendorfer.
Both Kolacia and Bennett scored in the third after drawing walks, with three more runs coming across in the fourth. Kolacia and Tracy each came around to score after getting on with dropped third strikes.
“This was a Joe Shanks kind of game,” said Szalat, referencing the former Gael head coach. “We adjusted at the plate, made their guy throw pitches and we finally started hitting the ball.
“It doesn’t matter if a pitcher throws 90 or 65, you have to hit the ball.”
Bocken has reached base in each of his last 11 games and Jack McEvoy pushed his streak to four in a row and 12 out of the past 13 games.
Earlier this year, St. Edmond fell to Bishop Garrigan at Rogers Park, 14-2.
That game will start after the Newell-Fonda vs. Sioux Central contest, which begins at 5 p.m. The Mustangs knocked off North Union, 15-5 in five innings, and the Raiders downed Graettinger-Terril/R-A, 6-1, last night.
ST. EDMOND 9, WEST BEND-MALLARD 6
WB-Mallard 220 001 0 — 6 11 3
St. Edmond 032 310 x — 9 9 3
WP–Jake Szalat (7-1, 4+ IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 5 K, 2 BB). LP–Cole Hoskins (5• IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 6 K, 4 BB). 3B–WBM: Cole Hoskins. 2B–WBM: Cole Hoskins, Danie Riesenberg, Mason Link; SE: Jackson Kochendorfer. RBI–WBM: Cole Hoskins, Danie Riesenberg (2), Nick Ford (2); SE: Connor Bocken, Noah Carlson, Jackson Kochendorfer, Jeremiah Wheeler (2).