Up 4-0 through three innings of the Class 2A baseball state championship game, Minnehaha Academy was in cruise control on its way to a second straight title.
That was a small problem.
“We looked like we fell asleep for a little bit,” senior outfielder Alex Evenson said.
And Pierz rallied, scoring one run in the fourth and three more in the fifth. Suddenly, the score was tied 4-4 with two innings to play, which was no surprise to Pierz coach Dan Saehr.
“This group has never, ever thrown in the towel,” he said. “Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a deal to be down 4-0, but the makeup of our team, the makeup of our seniors, we were confident that we were going to find a way to get back into this thing.”
The comeback caught top-seeded Minnehaha Academy (26-2) off guard, at least for a moment.
“It wasn’t a good feeling,” Evenson said. “I was thinking to myself, … ‘Ah, gosh, we had that game. What happened?’ But we had a lucky hit, and that kind of sparked everything, and we kind of pulled it off.”
Like they always do. The Redhawks responded with two runs in the top of the seventh to beat third-seeded Pierz 6-4 and complete its run to a repeat.
“You would think maybe the (title-winning) feeling wasn’t there (afterward), but it was there,” senior outfielder Alexander Jordan said. “It was a rush. I know a lot of people were worried because our three best players graduated last year, but this was the most resilient team I’ve ever been on.”
That showed at state. Minnehaha Academy trailed early in its quarterfinal game and was down in the sixth inning of its semifinal win over Maple Lake. Yet the Redhawks always rallied, as they did Monday. Said Jordan: “It’s hard to put the champs down.”
“We have guts and we have senior leadership,” Evenson said. “We want to win so bad and we’ve worked so hard to win that we never want to give up.”
But while the seniors led the Redhawks to this point, a couple underclassmen helped put…