Blossoms win Subsection 1A West Title

Published 9:33 pm Monday, May 25, 2009

Sometimes you’ve just got to throw the heat.

After throwing a variety of breaking balls and curve balls all day, Blooming Prairie’s ace reached back and went to his fast ball to get a Subsection 1A West Division Title clinching strikeout in a 3-1 win over Southland Monday at Seltz Field.

The third-seeded Rebels (13-8 overall) had runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the seventh, when Clark reached back and blew a fastball past Southland’s Adam Kiefer to send the Awesome Blossoms (19-4 overall) to the Section 1A tournament, which begins Saturday in Rochester.

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“It was time to start throwing fast balls so I went away from the offspeed,” said Clark, who is a senior. “I’ve gotten a lot of red (ribbon) second places over my career, so it feels nice to finally get the blue. But we’ve got a long ways to go still and we’ve got to get better.”

Southland had the bases loaded with just one out when Chris May grounded out to score a run and despite the jam, BP head coach Chris Staloch said there was no way Clark, who struck out nine, was coming out of the game.

“Everybody knows he’s our number one,” Staloch said. “If I went to get him off the mound, he wasn’t leaving. He’s very confident in his abilities and he’s worked his tail off to pitch in a big game like this.”

The top-seeded Blossoms didn’t waste any time getting on the board as Justen Ingvalson opened the game by blasting a triple to deep right-center field. Josh Toquam knocked Ingvalson in with a single and BP had the bases loaded with one out.

But Southland’s Alan May pitched out of the first by getting Cooper Nelson to pop out and striking out Aaron Krejci.

BP would rally again in the second when Ingvalson slapped a single to right field after Zach Herdina had walked with one out. Toquam followed that up with a single that scored two when Southland couldn’t field Toquam’s hit in the outfield.

Toquam and Ingvalson combined for five of BP’s six hits.

“It seems like every time Justen starts hot, we end up scoring runs,” Clark said. “He’s a big ignitor for us. If he doesn’t (get going) than we’ve got to try and piddle around an play small ball.”

Toquam said BP’s fast start against Randolph in the second round showed the Blossoms how important it is to come out swinging.

“We knew we had to do that again and it got everybody into the game early on,” Toquam said.

The BP defense made some big plays behind Clark on the day. After Southland’s Mitch Nagele and Matt Schroeder each singled to start the third, Herdina made a leaping catch on a line drive off the bat of Alan May and Clark struck out the next two hitters to get out of that inning unscathed.

Cooper Nelson also made a leaping catch in left field on a fly ball by Nagele to start the fifth inning.

Toquam, a senior shortstop, started on the BP team that was eliminated in the Section 1A tournament two years ago, but he’s feeling more confident this time around as BP will play Chatfield Saturday at Mayo Field at 12:30 p.m.

“I think everybody’s into it and we believe in ourselves.” Toquam said. “I don’t know if any team’s ever believed in themselves the way we do. We really think we can go deep in the playoffs.”

Staloch is hoping BP can stretch its season out as long as possible.

“They’re just good kids and when you have good kids, they’re going to do good things,” he said. “I want to extend it as long as I can. I have nine seniors that I’m going to hate to let go at some point.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

S 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 1

BP 1 2 0 0 0 0 X 3 6 3

BP pitching: Israel Clark (W), 7 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 9 K

BP hitting: Justen Ingvalson, 3-for-3, triple, 2 R; Josh Toquam, 2-for-3, 2 RBIs; Matt Zellmer, 0-for-1, 2 BBs; Austin Moe, 0-for-3; Israel Clark, 0-for-2, HBP; Cooper Nelson, 1-for-3, SB; Aaron Krejci, 0-for-3; Logan Underwood, 0-for-3; Zach Herdina, 0-for-2, R, BB

Southland pitching: Alan May (L), 6 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 K, HBP

Southland hitting: Matt Schroeder, 2-for-3, BB; Alan May, 0-for-3, BB; Chris May, 0-for-4, RBI; Adam Kiefer, 1-for-4; Josh Bamrick, 1-for-3, double; Mitch Heimer, 0-for-2; Tyler Kressin, 0-for-3; Trevor Emanuel, 0-for-3; Mitch Nagele, 2-for-3