ST. CLOUD -- It didn't matter who pitched for Brainerd in the District 6 American Legion baseball tournament in the last five days.
The result was always the same -- a victory.
In Monday's championship game at Putz Field, it was left-hander Drew Boland's turn to spin a gem as he pitched Brainerd to a 6-0 victory over Sauk Rapids and to its first state tournament trip since 1995.
In four district games, six different Brainerd pitchers combined to surrender one earned run.
On Monday, Boland went six innings, giving up three hits, walked one and struck out two. Joey Tautges moved from behind the plate to the mound in the seventh, walked one and struck out one.
"Drew pitched outstanding again," Brainerd coach Paul Jenkins said. "He did like all our pitchers are doing, changing speeds, throwing strikes. And, Joey does a super job back there calling pitches. That's one of the big things helping all our pitchers out."
Four double plays also helped Boland and Tautges. Brainerd turned three while Boland was pitching, in the first, third and fifth. After walking the leadoff hitter in the seventh, Brainerd turned its fourth double play.
"They helped me out a lot," Boland said of the defense. "The guys might boot one but they pick me up later and get a double play."
"We played solid defense," Jenkins said. "We had a couple errors out there, but for the most part we played great defense.
"Tony Parrish had a great game at shortstop (six assists). That was one of the keys that I felt we had to have. I knew our left side would have to play well. When Drew pitches, a lot of balls are hit to the left side."
Sauk Rapids didn't hit many balls sharply. The only one was Chad Wimmer's single off the fence in left in the second. Boland did not permit a Sauk Rapids runner to advance beyond first base while winning his fifth game in six decisions this summer.
Brainerd didn't exactly sting the ball either, collecting just four hits. Four Sauk Rapids errors, coupled with a few key hits, led to six unearned Brainerd runs.
In the first, Tautges led off a with a walk and scored on an error at short. Mark Germain followed with a 2-run single to right-center to put Brainerd ahead 3-0.
"That definitely was the big hit of the game," Jenkins said. "(Sauk Rapids) could have just been down 1-0, they could have relaxed, came up and tied it. But when Mark came through with that hit, and put them down 3-0, I think that pretty much put Sauk Rapids down. I don't think they were able to recover after that."
Brainerd added three runs in the third. Two errors, combined with an RBI double inside the left-field line by Chris Klabo, a sacrifice fly by Kevin Mertens and an RBI single to right by Ryan Browning, put Brainerd ahead by the final score.
Brainerd 330 000 0 -- 6 4 2
Sauk Rapids 000 000 0 -- 0 3 4
Brainerd -- Drew Boland, Joey Tautges (7) and Tautges, Aaron Jenkins (7). SR -- Scott Sand, Nate Swan (4) and Mike Lynch. W -- Boland (5-1). L -- Sand.
2B -- Chris Klabo (B). SB -- Chad Weiss (B). Sac -- Kevin Mertens (B). RBI -- Klabo, Mertens, Mark Germain (B) 2, Ryan Browning (B). LOB -- B 3, SR 4. DP -- B 4, SR 1.
Record -- B 24-5. Next game -- Brainerd in state tournament at Marshall Thursday through Monday.
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