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Meyer closes the door in Spartans' win over Owatonna

By Steve Webb

webb@postbulletin.com

Matt Meyer wanted the baseball.

The talented Rochester Mayo pitcher, who is headed for Boston College next season on a scholarship, was playing first base Monday when things got sticky for his team in its Section One, Class AAA playoff game at Mayo Field.

Owatonna had the bases loaded with two outs, and Mayo was down 3-2. Reliever Vince Anderson had walked a batter and hit a batter, and Mayo coach Jim Sonju called time.

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When he walked to the mound, he intended to pull Anderson and replace him with junior Zach Nesler. But when the team gathered there, Meyer asked for the ball.

"He said, 'Give me the ball, I want it. I'll shut them down, and we'll go get some runs,'" Sonju said.

"What I liked about that was that he had confidence in himself and in his team," the coach said. "And with the bases loaded and their best hitter up, who do you want on the mound?"

So in came Meyer, who struck out Owatonna designated hitter Justin Barlow to get out of the inning.

Sure enough, Mayo came back with two runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-4 lead, and Meyer shut down the Huskies the rest of the way. A homer by Tom Senne to lead off the sixth gave the Spartans an insurance run, and Mayo finished with a 6-4 win.

Now Mayo will play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Red Wing against Eagan, which downed Austin 5-0 on Monday.

Meyer was outstanding Monday. He struck out the first four hitters he faced. When the No. 9 hitter bunted, Meyer threw him out at first and then he struck out the next two hitters. He closed with two more strikeouts in the seventh, giving him eight in 31⁄3; innings of work.

Meyer threw five no-hit innings Thursday, allowed one hit against Owatonna on Saturday and gave up one infield hit Monday. Of his 90 strikeouts this season, 23 have come in the three tournament games. His earned-run-average is 1.01.

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"I knew I struck out a lot of them, but I didn't realize it was that many," he said. He admitted his arm felt a little tired Monday but said he knew he could throw.

"I shut them down last game, and I was confident. I asked (Sonju) to give me the ball, and he did."

Meyer also knocked in two of Mayo's runs with a sacrifice fly and a single.

Both teams showed some nerves, and it was not the best defensive effort by either.

Mayo had two errors in Owatonna's three-run fourth inning and twice allowed the ball to drop between fielders when it could have been caught. One of the runs scored on a wild pitch.

Owatonna had three errors in the fifth inning, when Mayo took the lead again.

Sonju said reliever Anderson had injured a finger in batting practice earlier in the day, but they thought he would be OK. He said he wasn't nervous about his team playing a second game against Owatonna, but he wanted to get it over with the first game if he could.

"In the back of my mind, I remembered when we had been 10-runned by Eastview (in 1999), and then we beat them twice. Baseball is a funny game."

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Sonju said the Spartans' goal has been to make it to state again this year, which would be the third time in five years.

"We're in a good position now, but there are four great teams (in Red Wing for the section finals)," he said.

Senne had two hits, and Tony Konicek continued his hot hitting with a single, a double and an RBI.

OWATONNA (4) MAYO; (6)

ab r h bi ab r h bi

; Skala lf 4 1 1 1 Brady; 2b 3 1 1 0

; Herzog ss 4 0 2 0 Senne; lf 4 1 2 1

; Seykora 3b 3 0 1 0 Konicek; cf 3 2 2 1

; Marka c 3 0 1 0 Miller; 3b 1 1 0 0

; Barlow dh 4 0 0 0 Meyer; 1b,p 3 0 1 2

; Troy 1b 4 1 1 0 Heydt; rf 4 0 0 0

; Wilson 2b 2 1 1 0 Wahl; c 2 1 1 0

; McManimon rf 3 1 1 0 Nesler; 1b 2 0 1 0

; Bramer cf 3 0 0 1 ANderson; dh 1 0 0 0

; Von Ruden p 0 0 0 0 Becker; ss 3 0 0 1

; Miller p 0 0 0 0 O'Reilly; p 0 0 0 0

; Dudley cr 0 0 0 0 Leisen; pr 0 0 0 0

; Noll; cr 0 0 0 0

; Totals 30 4 8 2 Totals 26 6 8 5

; Owatonna 010 300 0 -- 4 8 3

; Mayo 210 021 x -- 6 8 5

; 2B -- Herzog, Wilson, Owat. Konicek, Mayo. HR -- Senne, Mayo. SB -- Wahl, Brady, Miller, Mayo.

IP H R ER BB SO

; Owatonna

VonRuden, L 5 8 6 6 5 0

; Miller 1 0 0 0 0 0

; Mayo

O'Reilly 32⁄3 7 4 4 1 0

; Anderson 0 0 0 0 1 0

; Meyer, W 31⁄3 1 0 0 0 8;

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