In preparation to play No. 1-seeded Stillwater in the Class 4-A State Baseball Tournament, Eden Prairie High School baseball coaches set Eden Prairie’s pitching machine at its highest setting.
“We thought we’d see their lefty,” said Eden Prairie coach John Buteyn. “He can throw 93-94 mph.”
The week prior, Stillwater’s Drew Gilbert had been selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 2019 MLB draft. Gilbert’s teammate Will Frisch was also drafted by the Twins. Frisch’s fastball has been clocked as high as 98 mph.
Gilbert had pitched 36 innings prior to Stillwater’s section championship game. He counted two no hitters and 73 strike outs. His earned run average was 0.00.
“We don’t have guys who see that kind of pitching on a regular basis,” said Buteyn. “Even if they’re capable of hitting it, it’s tough to do if you only see it once or twice.”
Against Gilbert, Eden Prairie struck out eight times in the first three innings.
The Ponies scored three runs in the second inning and four in the fourth.
In their three-run second, they dropped four bunts.
“I’m not really an unwritten rules guy,” said Buteyn, “but I didn’t expect to see them bunting with a six or seven-run lead.”
Eden Prairie lost 11-0 in five innings. It hit a few balls hard, but didn’t record a hit.
Stillwater counted 11 runs on 11 hits.
On Saturday, June 15, Eden Prairie fell 11-6 to No. 4-seeded Mounds View in the consolation semifinals.
Eden Prairie led 2-1 after one inning. The game was tied 5-5 after four.
The two teams combined to hit six home runs. Eden Prairie belted three solo home runs. Mounds View smacked solo, 2-run and 3-run home runs.
The Mustangs outhit the Eagles 11-7.
Jordan Amundson finished 2-4 with a home run and 2 RBIs. Joey Danielson went 1-3 with a home run and two runs scored. Grant Randle went 1-3 with a home run and 1 run.
Buteyn isn’t a huge fan of consolation games.
“I can see getting a second game if you’re coming from outstate,” he said, “but the 4-A tournament features eight Metro teams.
“The motivation level for playing after a loss is different,” he added. “You manage different and your investment-level is different.”
Eden Prairie used 13 players in Saturday’s game.
Eden Prairie started its season with a 1-3 record. It finished third in the Lake Conference, yet cruised (4-0) to a section championship.
“My approach to the season is to be better at the end than you were at the beginning,” said Buteyn. “This group certainly accomplished that.
“Section 2 might be the toughest section in the state to get out of,” he added. “The guys did that. Our state tournament didn’t go the way we’d hoped, but they have a lot to be proud of.”