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Mustangs cruise to first baseball state crown
Ray Kinsella built the original Field of Dreams in the middle of an Iowa cornfield in a motion picture starring Kevin Costner. For the Mounds View High School baseball team, its field of dreams is a few hours north of Kinsella’s.
The Mustangs fulfilled two dreams on Monday in downtown Minneapolis. No. 1, they got to play at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. No. 2, they won the first baseball state championship in school history.
All three facets of the game came together for Mounds View in its 8-0 win over Rocori in the Class AAA final. The Mustangs amassed their eight runs on 14 hits, got a nine-strikeout performance from all-state pitcher Max Knutson and played error-free defense.
Knutson showed early on that it was going to be a long day for the Rocori hitters by fanning the first batter of the game on three pitches. He gave up four hits and walked one to improve his record for the season to 6-1. Next year, Knutson will be toeing the rubber for the University of Nebraska.
At the plate, Knutson got the Mustangs rolling in the bottom of the first inning. Knutson drew a two-out walk and courtesy runner Ryan Placensia took second on a throwing error and scored on Sam Hentges’ double. Mounds View went up 2-0 when Justin Ortt singled home Hentges.
Knutson set the table for Hentges again in the third inning with a leadoff walk. Hentges made Rocori pay again by drilling a triple to score Placensia. Lars Anderson followed with a double to bring home Hentges.
Mounds View then put the game out of reach in the fourth with four more runs and again did all of its damage with two outs. Hentges and Anderson started the rally with back-to-back singles and Hentges scored on Ortt’s base hit. A Nate Douvier walk then set the stage for Charlie Callahan’s two-run single that scored courtesy runner Joe Janey and Ortt. Austin Smestad then drove in the final run of the game with a double that scored Douvier.
Rocori could get little going against Knutson the rest of the way. In the seventh, the Spartans got their fourth hit of the game with a leadoff single but Mounds View quickly erased the baserunner with a 6-4-3 double play. Knutson then closed out the game and the season and wrapped up the title with one final strikeout.
Six of the Mustangs’ 14 hits came from their four and five hitters, Hentges and Anderson, respectively. Hentges finished a home run shy of the cycle and Anderson went 3-for-3. Ortt and Callahan added two hits each and Hentges, Ortt and Callahan had two runs batted in each.
Hentges, Knutson and Callahan were named to the all-tournament team along with Alec Abercrombie, who was held hitless by Rocori but did his share of hitting in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Mounds View, which adds the state title to the Section 4AAA championship and co-Suburban East Conference title it won earlier this season, reached the 20-win plateau with the victory and finishes the season 20-6.
Class AAA state high school baseball tournament
Coon Rapids 2, Wayzata 0
Mounds View 2, Forest Lake 1
Rocori 3, Lakeville North 2
Minnetonka 3, Rochester Mayo 2, 11 innings
Mounds View 9, Coon Rapids 4
Rocori 4, Minnetonka 1
Forest Lake 3, Wayzata 0
Lakeville North 6, Rochester Mayo 3
Mounds View 8, Rocori 0
Minnetonka 6, Coon Rapids 0
Lakeville North 9, Forest Lake 1