Two streaks came to an end in the 6AAAA section baseball championship final June 7 at Hopkins High’s turf field.
Hopkins earned its first state berth in nine years by virtue of its 8-4 win over Wayzata, and at the same time, The Trojan’s string of three consecutive section titles was halted.
Winning coach Jason Mihalakis watched his starting pitcher Wyatt Nelson go six solid innings Friday afternoon before reliable reliever Nick Kanitz finished the job.
It wasn’t an easy win by any means, given the fact Wayzata cut Hopkins’ lead to 5-4 with a three-run fifth inning. But two home runs by Hopkins made a big difference in the outcome.
Kyle Feduccia’s first home run of the season helped Hopkins build a 4-1 lead early in the contest, and then Luke Polyak clubbed a two-run homer in the top of the sixth to put Hopkins back in charge. Polyak, a fourth-year varsity outfielder, also hit a single and a double Friday.
“We have a fantastic group of guys,” Mihalakis said after the game. “We have so much confidence this year with our four captains – our eight seniors, actually – leading the team. It helped to get ahead early today. Wayzata has had our number for a few years.”
Hopkins was able to stay in the winners bracket of the section tourney. Meanwhile, Wayzata had a long road to the championship game following a 2-1 loss to Armstrong in its first section game.
Miles Halligan pitched a complete game to beat Armstrong 4-1 in the winners’ bracket final. Wayzata won elimination games over Minneapolis South, Minneapolis Southwest and, finally Armstrong, to stay in the hunt.
Hopkins advances to state with an overall record of 18-6 after winning four straight games in the section. In their first three section wins, the Royals gave up a total of three runs while defeating Minneapolis Washburn 2-1, St. Louis Park 11-1 and Armstrong 4-1.
Nelson was the winner in the Armstrong game with 10 strikeouts, and Halligan pitched a two-hitter with 17 strikeouts in the victory over Armstrong. Halligan was cutting loose at 92 miles-per-hour and the Falcons couldn’t get around on him. His masterpiece included striking out the side five times – in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.