St. Mary’s edges MVL in 2A Playoff

SLEEPY EYE – Justin Bruns’ throwing error with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning allowed courtesy runner Jared Rothmeier to score from third and lift top-seeded Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s to a 2-1 win over Minnesota Valley Lutheran in a Section 2A playoff game.

Sean Mathiowetz got the pitching win for the Knights, now 20-1. He pitched the final 4-1/3 innings in relief of starter Jon Kopacek.

Rick Jensen went all nine innings for MVL. He permited nine hits and fanned three. He did not walk a batter.

Mathiowetz, Brandon Helget and Kopacek each had two hits for the Knights.

St. Mary’s will now host BOLD today at 5 p.m. while MVL ( 7-9) will meet New Ulm Cathedral the same day at 5 p.m. at Johnson Park in an elimination game.

“This was a great game,” said St. Mary’s head coach Bruce Woitas. “Both teams pitched well and both teams played well defensively. We both had oppprtunities and each team botched some opportunities. We were able to score when they made a mistake.”

MVL and the Knights were knotted 1-1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning when St. Mary’s was able to push the winning run across.

Jon Kopacek led off with a single. Courtesy runner Jared Rothmeier took second on a Lucas Heiderscheidt sacrifice bunt. Jensen fanned David Surprenant for the seecond out, but Rothmeier alertly took third when the ball bounced into the dirt and MVL catcher Ryan Grunke had to throw to first for the second out to retire Surprenant.

Mike Hirsch then slapped a ground ball to Bruns at shortstop. Bruns fielded the ball cleanly but his throw to first was in the dirt, allowing the winning run to score.

“I am so proud of my team tonight,” said MVL coach Jeff Schoenherr. ‘They went out and competed – they competed like I had not seen them compete this season I am really proud of the Chargers.”

Both Jensen and Kopacek kept the other team’s offense at bay and worked out of tough situations.

In the fourth, the Knights mounted a scoring threat when Brandon Helget doubled and took third on a Mitch Neid sacrifice bunt. Kopacek followed with a ground ball to Bruns at short and when Helget tried to score, Bruns gunned him down at home.

The Chargers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth when Jensen walked and moved to second on a Jake Mielke sacrifice bunt. Grant Wilson walked before Kris Goetzke blooped a single over first to plate Jensen.

St. Mary’s tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Sean Mathiowetz single and got to third on a Mitch Neid sacrifice bunt. Kopacek followed with a base hit that scored Mathiowetz setting the stage for the bottom of the seventh.

“I was proud of the way Rick (Jensen) pitched,” said Schoenherr.”He mixed his pitches well and was throwing different pitchers on different counts.”

For Woitas and the top-ranked Knights, it is a case of finding a way to win. “We learn from our mistakes and we grow from that.”

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