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It was a great game, but JM winds up on short end

By Ben Pherson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

RED WING, Minn. — There wasn’t enough praise to go around after Monday’s Section One, Class AAA Final Four title game at The Athletic Field.

For 12 innings, two good high school baseball teams played error-free ball, and pitchers were stretched beyond their previous limits.

In the end, it was Owatonna that came up with the clutch hits when it needed them most, scoring a run in the bottom of the 12th inning to earn a 3-2 victory over Rochester John Marshall and a trip to the state tournament.

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"That was fun, it was just unfortunate we didn’t come out on top," JM coach Dutch Heiderscheit said. "Hats off to Owatonna. They played a great game. Both teams played great."

The Owatonna victory came after JM forced a second game by winning a 6-1 decision in Game 1.

But Game 2 didn’t go as well for JM.

The Rockets, who entered the playoffs ranked No. 1 in the state and in Section 1AAA, held a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. But Matt Simon hit an RBI single that scored Derek Schwab to tie the game for Owatonna. The Huskies had a chance to win it with the bases loaded and just one out. But JM pitcher Joe Moen, who tossed a complete game Saturday against the Huskies, worked out of the jam and forced the game into extra innings.

Moen was pitching in relief of starter Andrew Roble, who turned in a fine effort. Roble tossed five innings, allowing one run on two hits. Moen would pitch the next five innings, and the only run he allowed was in the bottom of the seventh.

Derek Hovick, who pitched all seven innings to earn the win in Game 1, was forced back into action in the 11th inning. He retired the first five batters he faced, but then hit Mitch Berg, who promptly stole second base. Then Paul Satterlund delivered the game-winning RBI double.

JM had jumped to a 2-0 lead. Kirby Reeping opened the fourth inning with a single and moved to second on Jordan Stokes’ sacrifice bunt. Reeping scored on Matt Miller’s RBI single.

The Rockets added a run in the fifth, with Brian Anderson scoring on Roble’s RBI single.

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But Owatonna answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth, and then came up big in the seventh and 12th.

The story of the game for JM was missed opportunities, especially in the early innings. The Rockets got to Owatonna starter Kyle Melcher early and often, tagging him for nine hits in the first five innings. But the Rockets stranded nine baserunners in the first five innings. They had the bases loaded in the second and third innings with only one out, but each time the Rockets failed to score.

"That’s the thing about a good pitcher like Melcher, though. You may get runners on base against him, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to score," Heiderscheit said.

Cody Johnson relieved Melcher in the sixth, and Johnson was nearly unhittable. He did not allow baserunners in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. And through seven innings of relief work, the Owatonna closer allowed just three hits.

"We didn’t hit many hard balls off him," Heiderscheit said. "He did a great job for them."

Johnson said he threw nearly 100 pitches in the longest outing of his career.

"I just kept going out there every inning and kept throwing," he said. "Thank God people made plays. I was going to go until we won."

The Rockets had two decent scoring chances off Johnson in the 10th and 12th innings. Johnson walked Anderson and Roble in the 10th, but the Rockets failed to capitalize.

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Hovick and Alex Peterson had hits in the 12th, but again Johnson shut the door.

Hovick was dominant in Game 1. He tossed a complete game three-hitter in leading the Rockets to a 6-1 victory.

At one point Hovick retired 11 consecutive Owatonna batters, and that streak was only stopped by a hit batter.

While Hovick was locking things down on the mound, Moen was doing damage with his bat. The senior pitcher and second baseman went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. Peterson also had a solid game, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored. Ben Van Vooren added two hits and an RBI, and Matt Miller had two hits and a run scored.

The Rockets ended their season with a record of 24-3.

JOHN MARSHALL 6, OWATONNA 1

First game

Owatonna 000 001 0 — 1 3 3

John Marshall 303 000 x — 6 12 1

WP — Derek Hovick. LP — Sam Zappa.

2B — John Marshall, Andrew Roble, Joe Moen 2. R — John Marshall, Jordan Stokes, Matt Miller, Moen 2, Derek Hovick, Alex Peterson; Owatonna, Jack Leuning. RBI — John Marshall, Moen 2, Peterson 2; Owatonna, Quin Christenson. HBP — Owatonna, Matt Simon (by Hovick), Mitch Berg (by Hovick). LOB — Owatonna 3, John Marshall 7.

OWATONNA 3, JOHN MARSHALL 2

Second game

John Marshall 000 110 000 000 — 2 12 0

Owatonna 000 010 100 001 — 3 8 0

WP — Cody Johnson. LP — Derek Hovick.

2B — Owatonna, Sam Zappa. SB — John Marshall, Matt Miller, Brian Anderson; Owatonna, Mitch Berg. R — John Marshall, Kirby Reeping, Brian Anderson; Owatonna, Kyle Melcher, Derek Schwab. RBI — John Marshall, Miller, Andrew Roble; Owatonna, Tyler Smith, Matt Simon. HBP — Owatonna, Berg 2 (by Roble and Hovick); John Marshall, Brian Anderson (by Melcher). LOB — John Marshall 14, Owatonna 8.

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