Gaels pass first postseason test
ALGONA — One of the key areas Mike Szalat emphasized when he became head coach of the St. Edmond baseball team was being aggressive on the bases.
The Gaels relied on that here Saturday night, overcoming an early deficit to defeat Graettinger-Terril/R-A in a Class 1A, District 3 quarterfinal, 5-3.
Cael Kolacia scored two runs, stole two bases and recorded the final eight outs on the mound to earn the win for St. Edmond (8-12 overall), who now heads to Peterson on Tuesday to face Sioux Central at 7 p.m.
Nick Bennett had an RBI-double for the go-ahead run in the sixth, later coming around to score an insurance run. Noah Carlson and Charlie Shelly also scored, with Jed Tracy recording two hits.
“Survive and advance,” Szalat said. “We get to play on Tuesday and half of the teams (in 1A) don’t.”
The Gaels jumped on the scoreboard with two quick runs in the first, as Peyton Scott struck out five of the first nine batters he faced. Scott, a sophomore, finished with five strikeouts in two-plus innings with senior Gage Johnson also picking up five strikeouts in just over two innings of work.
“Our pitching staff had some troubles with walks,” Szalat said. “We’ve relied on them all year, but other parts of our game really picked us up.
“Kids like Gage and Nick have done what we’ve asked of them to help the team. Gage came on and pitched great and Nick had a big double.”
Kolacia, a sophomore who was part of the SEHS track team this past spring that found success at state, worked out of a two-on, one-out situation in the fifth when he came out of the bullpen.
“It felt great coming in to pitch and being able to do what I could to help my team advance,” said Kolacia, who is now 3-3 on the year after picking up the win. “I think everyone on this team does what they can to help each other and if we keep that up, I believe we can keep advancing.”
In the fourth, Kolacia stole second after reaching on an error. He advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and stole home when the Titans (6-14) failed to cover the plate on an out.
“I think because the team was pretty aggressive on the base paths, it allowed us to be in scoring position early on in the innings,” Kolacia said. “Getting those guys on second or third puts a lot of pressure on the other team. Coach Szalat tells us often that he likes to be aggressive on the base paths and (Saturday) I think that aggressive mentality helped us knock in some runs.”
Eight of the nine St. Edmond batters reached base either by hit, walk or hit-by-a-pitch. Scott, Johnson and Kolacia combined to allow just three hits with 13 strikeouts, walking nine batters.
“Cael closed the door for us and that was something he struggled with last year,” Szalat said. “He’s done a great job in that situation this season and that shows how much he has matured as a pitcher.”
ST. EDMOND 5, GRAETTINGER-TERRL/R-A 3
G-T/R-A 003 000 0 — 3 3 4
St. Edmond 200 102 x — 5 5 1
WP–Cael Kolacia (3-3, 2ª IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 K, 2 BB). LP–Lucas Hoffman (2-5, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 2 BB).
2B–SE: Nick Bennett. RBI–G-T/R-A: Jon Gerdes, Treyton Cacek (2); SE: Cael Kolacia, Nick Bennett.