A five-run seventh inning was just enough for the Hopkins Post 320 Junior Legion baseball team to edge Excelsior on Aug. 4 and win the Minnesota Junior Legion state championship.
The Millers (28-15-1 overall) fell to Excelsior 7-2 in the first game of the state final to set up a winner-take-all rubber match at Red Haddox Field in Bloomington.
They trailed 7-6 in the top of the seventh but capitalized on six walks and a single to score five times and take an 11-7 lead.
Americo Sculati and Ati Massengill walked to load the bases, and Sam Harris later collected an RBI walk to tie the game. Paul Safranski and Cole Beyer also had RBI walks, and Cole Anderson singled home Harris and Safranski to cap the offense.
Excelsior scored three times in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 11-10, but Ryder Lane was able to get a flyball out to strand the tying run at third and clinch the state title.
Anderson finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs and a run scored, and Beyer was 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored. Safranski had two RBIs and two runs scored despite not getting a hit, and Ryan McGie had an RBI double.
Harris finished with an RBI and a run scored, and Sculati crossed home plate twice. Jackson View, Patrick Sweeney and Lane also scored runs.
Lane earned the win. He allowed three earned runs on five hits and three walks, striking out two in three innings.
Tim Sandford started and allowed four earned runs on a hit and five walks, striking out one in 1 2/3 innings, and David Campbell allowed two earned runs on five hits, striking out two in 2 1/3 innings.
Hopkins dropped its first state final game against Excelsior 7-2 earlier on Aug. 4. Excelsior scored once in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead and added five runs in the seventh.
Harris and McGie scored the lone Millers’ runs, and Sculati took the loss on the mound – pitching six innings and allowing one earned run on five hits, a walk and three strikeouts.
Other state games
Hopkins won three straight state games to start the tournament, including a 1-0 win over Excelsior on Aug. 2.
Anderson finished 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored in a 5-1 win over Rosemount on Aug. 1.
View added an RBI double, and McGie went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Lane had a double and a run scored, and Sculati, Sweeney and Harris also scored runs.
View picked up the win. He allowed one earned run on four hits and four walks in five innings, striking out eight. Campbell struck out three in two innings to finish the game.
Lane had the lone RBI in the 1-0 win over Excelsior, bringing home Harris. Safranski added a double.
McGie struck out five in 6 1/3 innings, walking four and allowing two hits to get the victory. Schulati struck out one and walked one in 2/3 of an inning for the save.
The Millers made the state final with a 4-3 win over New Ulm on Aug. 3.
Harris hit a walk-off RBI single to bring home Massengill in the bottom of the ninth.
Hopkins scored twice in the seventh to put the game in extra innings. Campbell singled, and Massengill scored on the throw, and Beyer later stole home to tie the game at 3-3.
McGie, Campbell and Harris had RBIs, and Massengill scored twice. View was 2-for-4.
Lane earned the win. He struck out two and allowed a hit in two innings.
Anderson started and struck out two in five innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and four walks. Tim Sandford struck out one and walked two in 1 1/3 innings, and Nick Fontanella struck out one and walked one in 2/3 of an inning.