ST. CLOUD -- In high school or Legion baseball the current group of Brainerd Warriors seniors had never beaten St. Cloud Apollo Eagles right-hander Josh Krogman.
The second-seeded Warriors picked the most timely opportunity to remove their albatross against Krogman by stunning the top-seeded Eagles 2-0 in the winners' bracket of the South Subsection 8, Class 3A tournament at Putz Field.
"The ghosts and the skeletons in the closet are gone now," winning pitcher Kevin Ericson said after firing a masterful 2-hit shutout.
Wednesday, May 31
At St. Cloud
Winners bracket -- Brainerd 2, St. Cloud Apollo 0
Losers bracket -- Rocori 8, St. Cloud Tech 0
Losers bracket --Apollo 4, Rocori 1 (Rocori eliminated)
Saturday, June 3
At Putz Field, St. Cloud
Brainerd (2) vs. St. Cloud Apollo (1) noon
Second game 2:30 p.m. if necessary
Ericson put on one of the finest pitching performances in Warrior history. Despite having thrown only 9 1/3 innings this spring, the Warriors' starting shortstop moved to the mound and thwarted the third-ranked team in Class 3A.
"Kevin hadn't started for us all year," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. "We didn't know if he could go all seven innings. I think the adrenaline carried him the last two or three innings.
"He pitched great. Obviously, if they're not the best team in the state they're one of the best. He pitched a 2-hitter against them. That speaks for itself."
Ericson's performance spoke volumes. He struck out eight, walked none and hit one batter. He threw 63 of 94 total pitches for strikes. He went to 2-ball counts just twice and to 3-ball counts only three times. Just four Apollo runners advanced past first base.
"I was ready to go," said Ericson, who retired 10 consecutive batters from the third out of the second through the final out of the fifth. "My arm started to get a little tired. I started relying more on off-speed pitches and location in the end."
Apollo ended up threatening only twice.
With one out in the second, an error at third base and a single by Apollo's Jason Kotschevar put runners at first and second. After a fly out, Ryan Lunderby's ground ball to short was misplayed, loading the bases. Ericson then struck out Travis Borresch to end the uprising.
In the sixth Ericson hit leadoff batter Chris Peterka and Chris Harrington singled. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position. Ericson then retired Krogman on an infield pop-up and Ryan Holthaus on a ground ball to short.
"Ericson threw a heck of a ballgame," Apollo coach Tom Frericks said. "I don't think we had many good at bats until the sixth inning. I think we were trying to pull the ball. We were not attacking the ball the way we like to.
"At the same time (Ericson) did a heck of a job staying in the zone. He kept coming at us. You put that combination together and you don't get a lot of chances."
The Warriors capitalized just enough on their chances against Krogman, who stranded six runners in scoring position and gave up just four hits.
With one out in the first, Brainerd's Nathan Thomas walked and Ericson popped up for the second out. Chris Macy followed with a run-scoring double to left-center.
"With two strikes I was looking for anything," Macy said. "Krogman is real good. You have to take advantage of any mistakes he makes. He kind of hung a curveball."
With one out in the sixth Brainerd's Ty Adams walked and Rob Lien flied out. Adams advanced to third when Mike Zauhar's ground ball to short was booted. Tim Siekas scorched an RBI single to right but Zauhar was erased on an inning-ending 8-4-2 relay throw.
"I was looking to hit the ball hard on the ground or hit a line drive," Siekas said. "I was trying not to pop-up."
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Berg c 4 0 1 0 Peterka cf 2 0 0 0
Thomas 2b 1 1 0 0 Harrington rf 3 0 1 0
Ericson p 3 0 0 0 Waldorf ss 2 0 0 0
Dircks cr 0 0 0 0 Krogman p 3 0 0 0
Macy lf 4 0 1 1 Holthaus c 3 0 0 0
Bolt 3b 0 0 0 0 Kotschevar 1b 3 0 1 0
Weiland dh 3 0 0 0 Davidson dh 3 0 0 0
Adams rf 2 1 0 0 Woodworth 3b 0 0 0 0
Lien 1b 2 0 1 0 Lunderby 2b 3 0 0 0
Kirkpatrick ss 2 0 0 0 Borresch lf 2 0 0 0
Zauhar ss 1 0 0 0
Siekas cf 3 0 1 1
Totals 25 2 4 2 Totals 24 0 2 0
Brainerd 100 001 0 -- 2
Apollo 000 000 x -- 0
E -- Bolt, Kirkpatrick, Waldorf, Woodworth. 2B -- Macy, Lien. SB -- Thomas, Kirkpatrick. Sac -- Thomas, Waldorf. LOB -- B 8, SCA 3.
IP H R ER BB SO
Ericson, W 7 2 0 0 0 8
Krogman, L 7 4 2 1 4 7
HP -- Lien (by Krogman), Peterka (by Ericson). Time -- 1:38. Records -- B 19-4, SCA 21-3.
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