Eden Prairie rolls into championship gameEden Prairie’s (Minn.) offense posted its second double-digit win of the tournament. This time, it put them one win away from a second consecutive Central Plains Regional title.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Eden Prairie’s (Minn.) offense posted its second double-digit win of the tournament. This time, it put them one win away from a second consecutive Central Plains Regional title.
Every player for Eden Prairie had a base hit en route to eliminating Omaha (Neb.) Pi Midwest 13-3 in seven innings during the American Legion baseball tournament on Sunday at Southside Municipal Ballpark.
“Offensively the guys came swinging,” Eden Prairie head coach Scott Hackett said. “To get three runs in the first takes some pressure off our pitcher and puts pressure on the other team.”
Eden Prairie (37-7-1), the Minnesota state champions, placed runner-up at last season’s American Legion World Series.
“It’s definitely easier knowing that we were able to win this regional last year and be so close to winning the World Series,” Eden Prairie right fielder Lance Thonvold said. “We kind of knew what kind of competition we were going to see here, where as last year we didn’t really know what to expect.”
The only team standing in Eden Prairie’s way is Carroll County, Iowa. The teams will today at 11 a.m. Eden Prairie already beat Carroll, 8-2, on Saturday night.
Thonvold, a University of Minnesota baseball recruit, powered Eden Prairie’s offense, going 4-for-4 with two doubles. He drove in four runs and scored three. He came into the game batting .154, but showed why he bats fifth in the order.
“I had a little struggle in the state tournament and coming in here I had the same struggles,” Thonvold said. “I kind of simplified what I do. I had more of a plan at the plate and thought about what I was doing more.”
This confidence surge might have came from his pitching performance on Saturday night, when he threw three scoreless innings, allowing no hits and striking out five.
“Anytime you had success like I did on Saturday night, you starting building some confidence,” Thonvold said. “It’s really nice to do here in a regional, because you are facing much better competition.”
Omaha, which ended its season at 38-13, came into the game with its best hitting performance of the tournament, putting up 16 runs on 19 hits Saturday to beat Sioux Falls (S.D.) East.
Pat Mooney, head coach of Omaha, knew his team’s offense was going to have to carry the ball club.
“We knew that we had to score a lot,” Mooney said. “We weren’t going to be able to hold them (Eden Prairie) down that much.”
Tony Skjefte, another University of Minnesota baseball recruit, started the scoring in the first with a two-run home run. That homer was Skjefte’s fourth of the tournament. It also brought his RBI count to seven.
Eden Prairie scored five runs in the seventh on two-run double by Tyler Ruemmele. Blake Schmit followed with a RBI double to score Ruemmele. Thonvold and Danny Blasy each drove in runs in the inning.
Omaha’s big hit came in the seventh as Dallas Schramm hit a two-run blast to left field. Schramm came into the game and replaced Billy Lipari as the catcher.
Jordan Smith, a left-handed pitcher, started for Eden Prairie and threw seven innings. He allowed three runs and struck out two. Smith walked six batters and got himself into a couple jams but got out with minimal damage.
“Jordan battled, it wasn’t always pretty, but he got the job done,” Hackett said. “We made some great plays defensively.
“Omaha hit some balls really hard early in the game and they were right at our guys. That was a big lift for us.”
Derek Petrich took the mound for Omaha, throwing six innings, giving up nine runs on 13 hits and striking out three. TJ Wood came on in relief, allowing four runs and striking out two.
“When Derek had his ball up, Eden Prairie hit him,” Mooney said. “When he kept the ball, he was good. He just had a couple missed pitches and they (Eden Prairie) made him pay for it.”
It has been a brief tournament for Eden Prairie so far. It has won two of its four games in seven-inning games because of the 10-run rule.
And there is still plenty of power left in Eden Prairie’s arms.
“Being able to score a lot has helped us,” Hackett said. “We’ve got a couple guys that have some fresh arms, so we have a couple different options.”
Eden Prairie 13, Omaha 3
EP 301 301 5 — 13 19 1
Omaha 100 000 2 — 3 7 4
Jordan Smith and Danny Blasy. Derek Petrich, TJ Wood (7), Billy Lipari and Dallas Schramm. W–Smith. L–Petrich. HR–EP, Tony Skjefte. O, Schramm.
Highlights: EP, Lance Thonvold 4-for-4, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 runs; Adam Bray 4-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Skjefte 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Tyler Ruemmele 2-for-4, 2B; 2 RBI, 2 runs; Tyler Peterson 2-for-5, 2B, 3 runs; Ryan Maenke 2-for-5, RBI, run; Blake Schmit 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, run. O, Schramm 1-for-1, HR, RBI, run; Kevin Connolly 1-for-2, 2B, run; Petrich 1-for-4, RBI; Cale Dineen 2-for-3.
Records: Eden Prairie 37-7-1 Omaha 38-13