KMS earns school’s third State Baseball trip with 4-1 win over LQP

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Alex Call pitches for the Saints during the Section 3A Baseball Tournament championship against Lac qui Parle last week as centerfielder Dylan Rudningen looks on.  KMS fell in the first game, 2-1, but came back in the second game to win, 4-1, earning the school’s third trip to the State Baseball Tourney.

The KMS baseball team is headed to state after splitting a pair of games with Lac qui Parle Valley during the Section 3A Baseball Tournament championship, Thursday at Granite Falls.

The Saints, who had won their first four section games, fell to LQP Valley in the first games, Thursday, 2-1, but KMS came back during the second game to win, 4-1, giving the Saints the section championship and a berth at the state tourney for the third time in school history.

KMS is 20-2 overall heading into the state tourney, which is set to begin Thursday (tomorrow) at the Mini Met in Jordan.  KMS earned the fifth seed and was set to open up the tourney at 12:30 p.m., Thursday (tomorrow) against fourth-seeded Randolph.

The Saints reached the finals with wins over Dawson-Boyd (13-1), YME (4-1), Adrian (7-0), and Minneota (10-1).

Alex Call took the loss during the first game with LQP, his first loss of the season, while Regan Carlson earned the victory with relief help from Weston Gjerde.  KMS also beat LQP during the regular-season (11-1) on the way to winning the Camden Conference title.

Carlson also had two of his team’s three hits in the first game, and Alex Call had two hits and Isaac Call had a huge three-run homer during the second game.

The Saints have now given up just 25 total runs through 22 games.

KMS has five seniors on this year’s team -- Weston Gjerde, Cade Melin, Regan Carlson, Dylan Rudningen, and Noah Thorson -- but the Saints also have a great mix of younger players.

“These seniors have been a core group for all our KMS sports teams for quite a few years,” coach James Cortez said.  “Baseball wise, they’ve probably played more baseball growing up than any other group that has gone through our program, and it definitely shows with how they’ve competed at the varsity level and how successful they’ve been. 

“All five seniors bring a different aspect of their personality to contribute to the team.  They all compliment each other with different skills they bring to the team.  They are all very good friends off the field, too, which makes them trust each other when they get on the baseball field.  They also do a very good job of bringing the younger kids on the team into the group and showing them what it’s like to compete at the varsity level and what it takes to be successful.”

Lac qui Parle 2, KMS 1

The Saints fell to Lac qui Parle in the first game, 2-1, as the Eagles scored two runs in the fifth and KMS scored one in the bottom half of the inning for the only runs of the game.

KMS had several chances to add more runs, but couldn’t come through with the big hit it needed.  In the second inning, KMS had its first two runners reach base as Isaac Call reached on an error and Christian Diederich coaxed a walk, but LQP got out of the inning unscathed.

In the fourth, Regan Carlson led off with a single and Call and Diederich walked to load the bases, but LQP got out of the jam with two strikeouts and a groundout.

“I wasn’t necessarily worried when we didn’t score in the fourth, but I did think that if we got a lead in that first game, we would have probably won it,” coach Cortez said.  “I think teams know that they aren’t going to score many runs against us and are going to have to beat us 1-0 or 2-1.  So if we had gotten a couple of runs that inning or had scored early in that first game, I think we would have won it.”

The Eagles scored two runs in the fifth when Eean Allpress hit a two-out single to score two runs.

The Saints came back in the bottom half of the inning with a run of their own as Weston Gjerde hit a one-out single and came home on a single by Carlson.

Alex Call allowed just two hits and four walks and struck out six.  He had allowed just one earned run all season, but gave up two to the Eagles.

Carlson went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the offense, while Gjerde had the other hit for the Saints, and Christian Diederich was 0-for-3, but walked twice and was hit by a pitch.

Wyatt Halvorson struck out six and walked five to earn the victory for Lac qui Parle.

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