St. Croix Prep closed out its 2019 varsity baseball season with a convincing 9-1 victory over West Lutheran on Friday at Barkers Alps. With the victory the Lions completed several accomplishments that set program benchmarks:
– The team’s 13-6 regular season record set standards for both wins in a season and best regular season winning percentage
– The Lions claimed a share of the MCAA Baseball conference championship, the first league title in program history
– After starting the season 0-4, the Lions went 13-2 the rest of the way, the best regular season stretch for an SCPA baseball team
– The Lions’ 148 regular season runs scored set a new Prep season high
Heading into Friday’s game, West Lutheran had clinched a share of the conference title with a 6-1 record with one game remaining. With a win, the Warriors would win the conference title outright. A Lions victory would elevate Prep to 6-2 and create a three-way tie for the MCAA crown among Prep, West Lutheran and New Life Academy.
Both teams would start the game with their ace on the mound – senior Cole Weber for the Warriors and senior Nolan Grubisch for the Lions. After two scoreless innings, the Warriors opened the scoring in the top of the third on a Benji Bruce single, a Lion error, and a sacrifice fly by Kamren Ott.
In the bottom of the third Prep rallied for two runs after Daniel Peterson was hit by a pitch and Kosei Kiyomoto singled. Carter Rogness sacrificed the runners ahead before Teige Lethert singled home Peterson and Sam Johnson’s sacrifice fly drove in Kiyomoto with the go-ahead run.
Behind Grubisch, those were all the runs that the Lions would need. Grubisch went seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits, striking out four.
However, the Prep offense made sure that Grubisch had a much wider margin to work with. In the bottom of the fourth, the Lions tallied five times off of Weber to chase the Warriors starter. The Lions loaded the bases to start the inning as Severin Hegstad walked, Tony Pribnow singled, and Peterson was hit again. A Kiyomoto fielders choice scored Hegstad and Rogness walked to reload the bases. A hard ground ball by Lethert resulted in a Warrior error that scored Peterson, Johnson followed with an RBI single, and a Grubisch sacrifice fly plated Rogness to make the score 7-1. Prep would add two runs in the sixth inning to end the scoring in the convincing 9-1 win.
In addition to Grubisch’s gem, the Lions were led by his two hits, 2 RBIs each from Hegstad, Lethert, and Johnson, and a run-saving throw from Peterson to cut down a West Lutheran runner at home.
With a conference title in hand and a program-best regular season, the Lions head into section 4AA post season play. Prep will learn of their seeding and first sectional opponent this weekend.