Irish put selves in enviable spot

Baseball team wins first two playoff games

Rosemount’s Griffin Lanoue makes contact in a Class 4A, Section 3 playoff game against Burnsville on Monday at Dundas Memorial Park. The Irish won 6-1 to remain undefeated in the playoffs. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

Rosemount’s regular-season record might not have been much to look at, but the Irish have shown they will be a tough team to take out of the section playoffs.

After defeating No. 1-seeded Burnsville 6-1 in the second round of the Class 4A, Section 3 playoffs Monday, the Irish are within two victories of going to the state tournament for the first time since 2008. It won’t be easy; Rosemount faces East Ridge in the winners’ bracket final Friday and South Suburban Conference powers Burnsville and Eastview still lurk with one loss each in the double-elimination tourney.

Remaining in the winners’ bracket means more rest for Rosemount’s pitchers, particularly the top two starters, Griffin Lanoue and Aidan Maldonado. When the Irish take on East Ridge at 4 p.m. Friday at Dundas Memorial Park, “we have pretty much everyone” available to pitch, Lanoue said. “I’m probably going to start that game and if I get in trouble, we can bring in anybody we want. Those off days are going to be huge. Other teams will have to spend some more pitching.”

Rosemount brought its overall record to 11-11 with victories over Park of Cottage Grove and Burnsville in the section tourney.

Monday’s loss could force Burnsville, ranked seventh in Class 4A, to alter its pitching plans for the rest of the tournament. It would have been possible for Burnsville (16-6), if it kept winning, to play just four section games and start senior ace Sam Carlson in three of them. Now, Burnsville will have to consider sending Carlson to the mound in an elimination game Wednesday against Apple Valley (6:30 p.m. at Dundas Memorial Park)

On Monday, Burnsville senior pitcher Caleb Casey held Rosemount to one hit over the first five innings. In the sixth, a couple of key hits, two hit batters and a couple of Blaze defensive misplays led to a six-run inning.

A single by Ryan Lemke brought in Blake Tamminen, tying the game. Burnsville couldn’t make the play on a Colin Pomeroy grounder, scoring pinch-runner Brad Heimkes and putting Rosemount in front 2-1. It went to 3-1 when Keenan Wenzel drew a bases-loaded walk.

Casey was taken out of the game and was replaced by ninth-grader Max Carlson. Rosemount’s Ethan Engdahl greeted him with a line drive that sailed over the Burnsville outfield, scoring three runs.

“Baseball is a game where if you have one mistake and a couple of clutch hits, things can snowball,” Lanoue said.

“We had guys in scoring position three of the first four innings,” Rosemount coach Chris Swansson said. “We were right there, battling. They don’t always fall in, but that’s baseball. The more you can stay with it, the better chance you have.”

Maldonado, a junior right-hander, held Burnsville to six hits and one unearned run while striking out 11. He also got the final out and a save in Rosemount’s postseason opener, a 3-1 victory over Park of Cottage Grove on May 25. Lanoue, a senior pitched the first 6 2/3 innings against Park, allowing four hits and striking out 10.

Lanoue (Xavier) and Maldonado (Illinois) are future Division I college players. “It’s just fun to watch them compete,” Swansson said. “They don’t like to lose at anything, and you can tell when they pitch. They’re driven, focused.”

Andrew Hanson had two of Burnsville’s six hits against Rosemount, and Ryan Brunner scored the Blaze’s run.

Burnsville opened the section playoffs with a 5-2 victory over Eagan on May 25. Sam Carlson pitched a complete game, striking out nine and holding the Wildcats to six hits. Carlson also had two hits, as did Jackson Martens.

The section championship game is scheduled Wednesday, June 7, in Dundas. Lanoue has liked what he has seen of the postseason so far, with noisy, enthusiastic crowds coming to the games.

“Playoff baseball is a lot different with the atmosphere here,” Lanoue said. “With everyone out here, it’s awesome.”

East Ridge 8, Eastview 4

East Ridge advanced to the winners’ bracket final against Rosemount while sending Eastview to the elimination bracket in the final game on Monday’s second round in Dundas. The Raptors (15-7) led 6-0 after three innings and held Eastview (15-7) to four hits.

Eastview plays Park of Cottage Grove in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Dundas.

Tommy Springer and Danny Kapala each had one hit and one RBI in Monday’s game. Alex Lindstrom drew a bases-loaded walk and Nic Nelson had a sacrifice fly.

Eastview opened the playoffs with a 5-0 home-field victory over Apple Valley on May 25 as Kapala pitched a two-hit shutout, striking out six. Lightning catcher Ross Cochran had two hits and scored once.

The Eastview-Park winner will play Burnsville or Apple Valley in an elimination game at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Dundas.

Elimination bracket

Apple Valley defeated Hastings 2-1 in 10 innings on Monday to remain in the Section 3 tourney. The Eagles (8-14) play No. 1-seeded Burnsville in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Dundas.
Eagan closed a 3-19 season with back-to-back losses in the Section 3 tournament. The Wildcats lost to Burnsville 5-2 in the first round May 25 and fell to Park of Cottage Grove 5-1 in the elimination bracket Monday.