MANKATO - Many times in baseball it is not how many hits you get but when you get them.
Saturday morning New Ulm Cathedral had just two hits in their Section 2A winner's bracket game against Mankato Loyola but the both came in consecutive at-bats.
Brandon Beranek laced a one-out double before Jack Schwartz laced a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth as the Greyhounds plated two runs to erase a 1-0 Crusader lead and went on to defeat Mankato Loyola 2-1 at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Cathedral starting pitcher Gabe Knowles tosses a pitch during the Greyhounds win against Mankato Loyola in the section 2A playoffs Saturday at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Gabe Knowles got the win for Cathedral. He scattered three Crusaders' hits and struck out eight, He issued just two walks - both of them coming in a 30 pitch first inning - when Loyola scored their only run.
Mark Korteum took the hard-luck loss for Mankato. He permitted just those two hits and fanned five.
Shane Sellner had two hits for Loyola.
New Ulm Cathedral will next play Thursday at 5 p.m. in the winner's bracket against a team to be determined. The Greyhounds would have to lose twice to be denied a trip to the Minnesota State High School Baseball Tournament.
For the Greyhounds and coach Bob Weier, it was a case of the game coming down to who could make the key play.
"In a playoff game, it can come down to one or two plays or one or two at-bats," he said. "You have players making plays or getting clutch hits. And that is exactly what happened today."
Cathedral trailed 1-0 after one inning when the Crusaders used some wildness from the righthanded Knowles to push across a run.
Knowles issued a one-out walk to Will Cipos. A balk moved Cipos to second before Sellner laced an infield single off of Knowles' leg that allowed Cipos to score.
"I was a little nervous in that first inning," said Knowles, who finished the game with 81 pitches. "But then I got comfortable with my pitching. I got more confidence in my pitches, especially in my off-speed pitches."
After that shaky first inning, Knowles was rock solid the last six innings. He allowed just two more hits and did not walk anyone.
"We changed up his pitch selection," said catcher Jack Schwartz. "He threw more breaking balls at the beginning of the at-bat to keep them off-balance."
With Knowles now in control, the Greyhounds now had to solve the lefthanded Korteum.
Korteum set down the first Cathedral 13 batters of the game.
But after Mike Skillings grounded out for the first out of the sixth inning, the Greyhounds got the break that they needed.
Russ Hoffman's ground ball to the right of first baseman Brett Taylor was misplayed into an error.
"We talked about that earlier that if we get someone on base, see what happens," Weier said. "Sometimes teams completely fall apart."
While the Crusaders didn't fall apart completely, the error sparked a rally.
Hoffman followed with a double to right field to put Greyhounds' on second and third with one out.
With Schwartz at the plate, Weier called for a suicide squeeze. Schwartz's squeeze bunt went foul. Two pitches later, Weier again tried the squeeze bunt again, he fouled off Korteum's offering.
"I was nervous because I missed the squeeze twice," Schwartz said. "But I kept my composure."
Schwartz made up for the two fouled off bunts with a two-run knock.
"I am thankful that Jack failed on the two squeeze bunts," Weier said. "He sure produced a pitch later."
The win means that the Greyhounds can now rest pitchers until Thursday.
"Our two top pitches will be ready to roll on Thursday and we will see what happens," Weier said.