Baseball: KMS shuts out New York Mills in Section 6A semifinal
KMS Fighting Saints move into the Section 6A final by beating New York Mills 2-0
GLENWOOD — Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg didn’t want history repeating itself.
The Fighting Saints are in the 6A championship after a 2-0 victory over New York Mills on Tuesday at Marthaler Field.
In last year’s Section 6A baseball playoffs, the Fighting Saints were one win away from making the section championship game before taking a 2-1 loss. KMS lost its next game in the elimination bracket while New York Mills ended up as the Class A runner-up.
“I was a little afraid that we were going to come out a little bit tight and not respond well,” Fighting Saints head coach Wade Adamson admitted. “But they came out with a purpose and a mission.”
This time, Alex Call made sure that KMS stayed in the driver’s seat for a section championship. The hard-throwing senior left-hander pitched all seven innings and struck out 15 one-hitter in a one-hitter.
“We’ve been waiting for this game all year,” Call said. “All year we’ve been wanting this moment and it came today.”
Said Adamson, “It kind of went pretty much the way that we hoped.”
KMS now waits on the winner of the elimination bracket. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and New York Mills play at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, with the winner facing the Fighting Saints in the championship at 4:30 p.m. Game 2, if necessary, is Friday. All remaining games are in Glenwood.
KMS looks to make state for the fourth time in school history, following their appearances in 1991, 2000 and ‘19.
“We won the first game now,” said junior third baseman Jaiden Henjum. “We got one more game left. Just focus on that.”
Call opened the game in dominant fashion with 10 strikeouts through the first 12 Eagle batters.
“Kudos to him because he really pounded that strike zone well and he mixed well,” said NYM head coach Dustin Geiser. “We haven’t seen a lefty throwing that hard this season, or ever with the exception of him from last season. He could locate his pitches well.
“He wasn’t just a thrower today; he was a pitcher.”
The Fighting Saints were close to going up 1-0 in the first when Call hit an opposite-field single to right field. Wylee Lottmann took off from second base and rounded third, only for the throw from NYM right fielder Bren Salo to beat him home. Catcher Bode Roberts applied the tag for the final out.
KMS didn’t have to wait long after that to get on the board. All it took was some heads-up baserunning from Henjum.
Leading off the top of the second inning, Henjum got on base after getting hit by a pitch. Going to second base on a wild pitch, Henjum went to third on a Chase Magaard grounder. Henjum sneaked towards home as the Eagles’ second baseman went to the ground to field the ball. And when the first baseman fell to the dirt on the stretch to get Magaard out, Henjum got his opening to head home for the game’s first run.
“The first baseman’s not lookin’ and I’m halfway down (to home),” Henjum said. “I’m halfway down; gotta do it.”
From there, Call and NYM’s own lefty, Jonah Johnson, duked it out. Over the first five innings, Johnson gave up just two hits, striking out eight in the game.
“When we have Jonah on the mound, we feel like we can beat anybody,” Geiser said. “We put a lot of pride in our pitching and our defense this year.”
The Eagles didn’t get their first hit until the bottom of the fifth when Brayden Ehnert hit a hard grounder that got through the right side of the infield. The next batter, Breck Hensch, was hit by a pitch. Then with a wild pitch, NYM runners were at second and third with one out.
Call struck out the next batter. Lottman, KMS’ catcher, stopped a pair of breaking balls in the dirt, including the pitch that struck out Montgomery Briard. Lottman picked the ball up and made the throw to first to get the final out and eliminate the threat.
“I’m very lucky to have Wylee,” Call said.
Adamson added, “(Lottman and Call) have been playing high school baseball for four years now. They know each other pretty well and Wylee can read when that ball’s going to be in the dirt and is not afraid to get down and get in front of it.”
Henjum came through with another big offensive play, cracking a double over the left fielder’s head to score Jared Cortez from second for an insurance run.
“I saw a fastball, so I swung and hit it,” Henjum said. “I thought I flew out to left but it went over his head. I was happy about that.”
KMS 010 001 0-2 7 1
New York Mills 000 000 0-0 1 0
Hitting - KMS: Isaac Rudningen 1-4 sb, Wylee Lottman 1-3 bb, Jared Cortez 1-2 r bb hbp, Alex Call 2-4, Jaiden Henjum 1-3 r rbi 2b hbp, Chase Magaard 1-3 rbi, Evan Zimmer 0-2 bb… New York Mills: Brayden Ehnert 1-3, Breck Hensch 0-1 hbp-2
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - KMS: Call (W) 7-1-0-0-1-15 … New York Mills: Jonah Johnson (L) 6-5-2-2-3-8, Jacob Guck 1-2-0-0-0-1