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JM junior tosses three-hitter in 4-1 baseball victory

By Ben Pherson

The Post-Bulletin

After three innings of Saturday’s Section One, Class AAA baseball playoff game at Hudson Field, Rochester John Marshall junior pitcher Spencer Brady admitted he was thinking no-hitter.

And why not? Brady was perfect through three frames with six strikeouts, and he had just struck out the side in the top of the third.

The pressure caught up with Brady in the fourth, though, when he walked the bases loaded.

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Though he struggled a bit with his control over the final four innings, Brady remained composed, tossing a three-hitter to lead the Rockets to a 4-1 victory over Rosemount in the Bracket D semifinals.

Brady worked out of the fourth-inning jam without allowing a run or a hit, but Rosemount finally broke up his no-hitter and shutout in the sixth, scoring a run on a pair of hits.

Brady finished with eight strikeouts. His teammates were so impressed that at one point someone shouted from the JM dugout: "Get that kid a bar of soap; his stuff is filthy."

The Rockets advance to today’s Bracket D finals without a loss, meaning Rosemount, which defeated Faribault to stay alive, must beat them twice to deny the Rockets another trip to the Section 1AAA Final Four.

"That’s huge," senior center fielder Erik Knutson said. "Just knowing someone has to beat you twice, that takes a lot of pressure off. I think it will keep us from getting nervous, playing tight."

Knutson sparked the JM offense Saturday, with just one swing of the bat. In the second inning, Knutson blasted a two-run home run that traveled about 400 feet over the green fence in center field.

Knutson said he’s been in a slump as of late, so it felt good to snap out of it at a key time.

"We wanted to get off to the good start, especially because we started slow (Friday against Albert Lea)," Brady said.

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Knutson’s blast was an exclamation point on that good start after the Rockets scored a run in the first inning off a hit and an error. Adam Wiesner singled and then stole second base before scoring on an error by the Rosemount third baseman off a sharply hit ball by Brady.

The Rockets went up 4-0 in the fourth inning. Junior catcher Bryce Odegarden, who had a great game behind the plate, led off the inning with a single. Courtesy runner Kris Long moved to second on Kellen Anderson’s sacrifice bunt, and Brad Yetzer smacked an RBI single.

Odegarden was sharp on defense, keeping the ball in front of him when Brady struggled with his control.

"Bryce is a great defensive catcher," JM coach Terry Heiderscheit said. "He did a great job with some of those balls in the dirt."

After Rosemount scored in the sixth to make it 4-1, the Irish had the tying run at the plate in the seventh after a walk and a single put runners at first and second. But Brady induced three consecutive pop-outs to secure the win.

Asked after the game if there was a big enough lead that would have allowed him to remove Brady from the game and save him for Monday’s Bracket D finals, Heiderscheit said no way.

"We weren’t going to take any chances," he said. "We knew Rosemount was a good team, and getting through to (today) without a loss is big. We didn’t want to mess around.

"Brady won’t start (today), but he could come in if we needed him."

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The Rockets finished Saturday’s game with only five hits, but it was more than enough. Knutson, Yetzer, Odegarden, Brady and Wiesner had one hit each.

The Rockets are scheduled to play Rosemount at 11 a.m. today at Hudson Field for a berth in the Section 1AAA Final Four. If the Rockets drop the first game, a second game is to be played at 1:30 p.m.

JOHN MARSHALL 4, ROSEMOUNT 1

Rosemount 000 001 0 — 1 3 1

John Marshall 120 100 x — 4 5 1

WP: Spencer Brady. LP: Blake Schwartz.

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