ST. CLOUD -- Due to inclement weather the night before, the start time of the Section 8, Class 3A baseball championship series was pushed back twice Wednesday and was moved from Putz Field to Faber Field.
The Brainerd Warriors may have wished they could have waited another day to play the Sartell Sabres in the opener.
Brainerd fell behind 3-0, 5-0 and 6-1 and rallied before losing 6-4 as the series shifts to Adamson Field 3 p.m. Thursday for at least one game (two if necessary).
Sartell coach Jerome Nemanich is optimistic about his team's chances of qualifying for state for only the second time.
"I think the kids are playing with some confidence now," said Nemanich, whose team won for the 14th time in the last 15 games. "I guess you could say we have the advantage. They have to beat us twice, we have to beat them once."
Brainerd coach Lowell Scearcy likes his team's chances at home.
"They hit the ball hard, there's no question about that," Scearcy said, "but we were that close against a pretty good pitcher. And, we probably hit the ball as well as we have lately because (Sartell's Casey Allar) is a better pitcher than we've faced in the last week or two."
Allar, a right-hander, gave up nine hits but only two through four innings. He struck out four and walked one.
He took a 5-0 lead into the top of the fifth when Brainerd scored its first run. Cliff Edberg reached on an error. Kyle Holbrook doubled him to third. Edberg scored on a RBI single by Mike Germain.
Warriors 6, Sartell 4
Sartell leads series 1-0
Game 2: Sartell at Brainerd, 3 p.m. Thursday
Game 3 (if necessary): Sartell at Brainerd, 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Brainerd's biggest blow was Brady Prince's three-run homer about 350 feet to left in the top of the seventh. Pinch hitter Devin Roberts led off with a single. Following a groundout, Germain singled. Prince's three-run homer pulled Brainerd within the final score.
"I think one of the keys to beating Brainerd is to get your off-speed stuff over, and I think Casey had them a little off-balance up there," Nemanich said. "Besides the bomb at the end, it was an outstanding pitched game by him. And, we played pretty good defense behind him."
Sartell seized a 3-0 edge in the bottom of the first. Derek Solt led off with a double to right-center. One out later, Trent Phelps was hit by a pitch. Following a fly out, Brian Schellinger singled deep in the hole at short to load the bases.
Losing pitcher Justin Huether walked Jeff Schulte with the bases loaded, forcing in the first run. Allar followed by flaring a two-run single to shallow center.
Sartell jumped in front 5-0 with a two-run third.
Phelps led off with a double down the right-field line. Following a pop-up, Schellinger drove in Phelps with a single and Schulte flared a single to center. Following a fly out and a walk, Kenn Letnes' single off second base scored Schellinger.
On Letnes' hit, Schulte was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Blake Eller to end the inning.
The Sabres added an insurance run in the fifth on Nate Strenge's sacrifice fly to center.
Germain and Nate Weber were both 2-for-3 to lead Brainerd. Schellinger, Allar and Letnes each had two hits for Sartell.
Brainerd 000 010 3 -- 4 9 1
Sartell 302 010 x -- 6 10 1
Brd-Justin Huether and Kyle Holbrook. Sart-Casey Allar and Trent Phelps. W-Allar (7-2). L-Huether (5-4).
2B-Brd-Holbrook; Sart-Derek Solt, Trent Phelps. HR-Brd-Brady Prince. SB-Brd-Prince; Sart-Jeff Schulte, Dan Gaughan. Sac-Sart-Schulte, Nate Strenge. RBI-Brd-Mike Germain, Prince 3; Sart-Schulte, Allar 2, Brian Schellinger, Kenn Letnes, Strenge. LOB-Brd 5, Sart 8. DP-Brd 1, Sart 1.
Overall-Brd 19-6, Sart 21-6. Next game-Sartell at Brainerd 3 p.m. Thursday (second game, if necessary, 5:30 p.m.)
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