K-W pitches its way to state tourney berth
Knights get third playoff shutout in Section 2AA final
LE SUEUR — Noah Grove continued Kenyon-Wanamingo’s dominant pitching in the Section Two, Class AA tournament and the Knights earned their first state tournament berth Thursday in a 4-0 win over St. James.
Grove pitched a three-hit shutout through 61⁄3 innings, and teammate Adam Langer closed the game with two strikeouts as Kenyon-Wanamingo completed an unbeaten run through the Section 2AA tournament.
K-W takes an 18-5 record and an 8-game winning streak to the Class AA state tournament next week at St. Cloud.
The Knights will play Thursday at 10 a.m. at Joe Faber Field against the Section 3AA champion, either Pipestone or La qui Parle Valley.
"We’re thrilled; this is very exciting for our program," said K-W head coach Randy Hockinson. "We have seven seniors in our starting lineup that are a great bunch of players and we were sort of counting on this (trip to state) before the season started."
Wanamingo played at the state baseball tournament in 1977 and 1979, but this is the first trip since the schools were combined.
Good pitching was the reason for Hockinson’s optimism, and K-W dominated the section tournament with its pitching, allowing just one earned run in four games.
Grove, a senior left-hander, was in control for most of the championship game. He finished with six strikeouts and two walks. Grove improved to 9-2 and his ERA is around 1.00.
"Noah is our ace but we’ve got three good pitchers, along with Langer and Nate Steenblock, so we feel good about our chances at state," Hockinson said.
St. James committed five errors while K-W’s defense was impressive.
Centerfielder Wade Yunder made a crucial running catch in right-center in the sixth inning two strand two St. James base runners.
"The wind was really blowing away from Wade and he had to run a long ways to catch the ball," Hockinson noted.
K-W scored all the runs it would need in the first inning on a two-run single by Steenblock. Langer was 2-for-3 with a double and run.
The K-W Knights are the second HVL Conference team to qualify for state.
Triton won the Section 1AA title on Tuesday. The two HVL teams are in opposite brackets at the state tournament and could conceivably meet in the final.
SECTION 2AA CHAMPIONSHIP
Kenyon-Wanamingo 4, St. James 0
St. James 000 000 0 — 0 3 5
K-W 200 011 x — 4 6 1
St. James: Patrick Peterson 3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 K, 0 BB.
Kenyon-Wanamingo: Adam Langer 2-3, 2B, 1 R; Nate Steenblock 1-3, 3 RBIs. WP: Noah Grove 61⁄3 IP, 3 H, 6 K, 2 BB.
RUSHFORD-PETERSON 10, PLAINVIEW 5
Rushford-Peterson 030 007 0 — 10 8 1
Plainview 320 000 0 — 5 7 4
Rushford-Peterson: Logan 2-4, 2 RBIs, 2 R, 3B. WP: Reid 7 IP, 4 K, 3 BB.
Plainview: Bryan Schneider 1-2, 2 RBIs. LP: Tristan Morath 1 1/3 IP, 7 R, 1 K, 1 BB.
Notes: Plainview is 0-1.