1AA baseball: Lourdes rides "horse" Hanson to 1AA section title
Nick Hanson made it look so easy it's almost hard to believe he was stressing about pitching in the Section 1AA baseball championship game Tuesday night at Mayo Field.
Nick Hanson made it look so easy it's almost hard to believe he was stressing about pitching in the Section One, Class AA baseball championship game Tuesday night at Mayo Field.
"I was nervous the whole day, more nervous than as a sophomore (when he pitched in the section final)," the Rochester Lourdes pitcher insisted.
"It's the last shot for all of us (13) seniors, and that (Kasson-Mantorville) team has had our number."
Not this time.
Hanson, the wiry 6-foot-1 senior right-hander, pitched a complete-game two-hitter and helped No. 2-ranked Lourdes to an 11-1 win in six innings over Kasson-Mantorville, the two-time defending section champ.
Winning its second straight game by the 10-run rule, Lourdes (24-0) claimed its fifth section baseball title and its first since 2002. K-M, which had beaten Lourdes the last two years in the section final, finished 18-9 with three losses to the Eagles.
"They're as solid a team as I've seen come through our section in quite some time," said K-M head coach Broc Threinen. "All the way through the lineup, they know how to handle the bat."
Lourdes got off to a fast start with seven runs in the first inning against K-M starter Brendan Knoll, who lasted only 1/3 of an inning. The Eagles ended it in the sixth when Paul Schroeder scored the 11th run from second base on Mitch Brandhagen's sharp two-out single to left-center against reliever Riley Knutson.
"It just feels great," said Hanson, who walked one batter and struck out six in improving to 10-0. "We aren't surprised; it's where we wanted to be."
Hanson got all the run support he'd need in the bottom of the first inning when Lourdes batted round the order and scored seven runs on four hits and four walks. Cleanup batter Daniel Burriss and No. 9 batter James Ustby both had two-run singles.
Hanson retired the first seven K-M batters he faced, and he set the KoMets down in order in four of six innings, facing just 21 batters in six innings.
"Hanson is it," Lourdes head coach Dan Herold said, with emphasis on the "it."
"He's not all that we have, but he's a horse and he wants the ball in every game like this."
Herold said that Hanson has developed as a pitcher over three varsity seasons, adding more pitches to his repertoire. Hanson, who was 9-2 as a junior, will pitch in college at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D.
"It's been a maturation process," he said. "He always had a great fastball, but he realized that he can't rely on that to get every out. He has added a good curve, a slider and change-up and he can throw four pitches consistently in the strike zone."
Hanson surrendered just his second earned run all season — in 54 2/3 innings — in the top of the fourth when Kyle Nichols drew a walk and came around on consecutive singles by Knoll and Aaron Berge. The KoMets lost their momentum when Knoll slid too far past third base on Berge's hit and was tagged for the third out.
After that, Hanson retired the KoMets' last six batters in order.
"Two earned runs all season is just incredible," Threinen said of Hanson. "I've watched him for three seasons and he has just improved every year; now he gets even tougher with runners in scoring position.
"I've watched enough of him now."
Lourdes, which entered this game with a .419 team batting average, got hits from eight players and finished with 11 hits including five doubles. Lead-off batter Zach Hillman started the first-inning rally with a lead-off double on the first pitch and added another double later.
Senior center fielder Paul Schroeder played his last game for Lourdes and will leave Sunday for San Diego to join the Marines. He was 1-for-3 with two runs, including the game-ending run in the sixth. Herold called it "poetic."
Schroeder was greeted with an announcement and a standing ovation when he accepted his medal at home plate from Lourdes athletic director Marv Peters.
"That was really nice; I wasn't expecting that," he said. "I'm more prepared (for the Marines) than I was a week ago; I'm ready to rock and roll."
Lourdes 11, Kasson-Mantorville 1, 6 inn.
Kasson-Mantorville: Brendan Knoll 1-for-2; Kyle Nichols 0-for-2, 1 R; Aaron Berge 1-for-2. Pitchers:Brendan Knoll (L) 1/3 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 0 K; Riley Knutson 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
Lourdes: Zach Hillman 2-for-4, 2 2B, 2 R; Paul Schroeder 1-for-3, 2 R; Connor Belda 1-for-2, 1 R; Daniel Burriss 2-for-4, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R; Henry Wittren 1-for-3, 1 2B; Ryan Nonn 0-for-0, 2 R; Adam Ellingson 0-for-4, 1 RBI; James Ustby 2-for-3, 2 RBI; Nick Hanson 1-for-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI; Carter Jones 0-for-0, 1 R; Mitch Brandhagen 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R. Pitchers:Nick Hanson (W,10-0) 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.