The St. Benedict Saints trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, in an elimination game, staring down Division 1 pitcher Nathan Berg last Friday in Union Hill. And they won.
For the second consecutive game, the team rallied from a deficit to keep their season alive defeating Union Hill in three games of their first-round playoff series.
Andrew Huss was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Carter Hodapp walked two batters later to bring Nick Heitkamp to the plate.
Heitkamp was injured near the end of Game 2 the previous night and Manager Wade Olsen elected to not put Heitkamp in the starting lineup.
“I’m sure glad things worked out the way they did,” Olsen said. “Nick is an incredible competitor and it would have been a tough way to end the season with your best outfielder on the bench.”,
Heitkamp hit a 2-1 fastball to the right-center field gap which scored both pinch-runner Jon Huss and Hodapp to ignite a celebration.
The dramatic ending wouldn’t have been possible without some excellent pitching from the Saints Cole Minnick and Tanner Oakes. The two pitchers split the game putting up eight zeroes in their nine innings of work.
There wouldn’t have been Game 3 drama without a Game 2 come-from-behind victory. St. Benedict trailed 9-3 in the fourth inning before exploding for 16 runs in the final four frames to pull away and score a 25-9 win.
Jeremy Heitkamp earned the win with four shutout innings of relief. Andrew Huss and Carter Hodapp each hit grand slams for the Saints.
Region 3C play started Sunday and St. Benedict was beaten soundly by a rested St. Patrick club 9-2. The Saints played poorly in the field and struck out too many times against Irish starter Collin Denk.
The loss forces St. Benedict into the loser’s bracket and the team must win their next two games to advance to the state tournament.
St. Benedict played New Prague on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Jordan. If the team defeats New Prague they will play Friday night. That game would either be in Faribault or in Union Hill against New Market.
“We don’t do ourselves any favors sometimes,” Olsen said. “But there is a realistic path. We will be underdogs in both games but we don’t care. It’s doable. We are confident in ourselves.”