The Miesville Mudhens' quest to win their third straight Class B state championship came to an end on Labor Day against a familiar foe. After beating the Chanhassen Red Birds 3-2 on Saturday in the champion's bracket final, the Mudhens once again took on the Red Birds in the state championship game. Miesville need to win just one out of two games, while Chanhassen, who came up through the consolation bracket on Sunday, had to win two. The Red Birds were successful, beating the Mudhens 6-1 and 7-4 in back-to-back games Monday to win their first-ever state championship.
If the situation sounds familiar, it is because Miesville did the same thing last year against Chanhassen. The Mudhens lost in the championship final in 2017 to the Red Birds and had to come out of the consolation bracket before they beat Chanhassen twice to win back-to-back state championships.
A familiar opponent
The two teams met for the first time this state tournament in Jordan for the championship bracket final. The game could not get any tighter with no score through the first four innings as Miesville's Jacob Dickmeyer cruised on the mound. Through those first four innings, the Mudhens and Red Birds combined for just five hits.
Miesville scored first in the bottom of the fifth when Reed Collins started the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a single by Spencer Merle. Jordy Horsch then grounded into a double-play that scored Collins for the 1-0 lead. Chanhassen responded in the top of the sixth when they scored two runs to take the lead, but the Mudhens answered with another run in the bottom of the sixth when Deryk Marks hit a solo home run.
With the game tied 2-2, Dickmeyer was pulled in the seventh and relieved by Steve Maher. They then scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Nate Hammes and Chris Olean came in for the ninth and got the save, sealing the Mudhens' 3-2 win.
Dickmeyer went 6 ⅔ innings and gave up just two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Seven different Mudhens each had one hit with RBI coming from Horsch, Marks and Hammes.
Dickmeyer said that the Red Birds are always a challenge.
"They're definitely probably the best team we play every year," he said. "They've got a lot of good baseball players, they're young, they run well and they compete hard and they have good arms, so every time you play them it's going to be a tough game."
After the game, Olean said that close games had become pretty common for the Mudhens in the state tournament.
"They're a good team, that pitcher did a really nice job, and we were just able to string something together late," he said. "It's kind of been the theme the last three weeks, just find a way and keep hanging on."
Miesville needed to win just one game on Labor Day to win their third state championship in a row, while Chanhassen needed to win two in a row. However, the Mudhens' bats could not have picked a worse time to go quiet as they scored just five runs in the two losses.
Shannon Ahern started game one for Miesville and was very sharp until he gave up three runs late. The Mudhens scored one run in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Hammes that scored Goulet and then Hammes was thrown out at home the next batter when Austin Murr doubled. They held that 1-0 lead until the Red Birds scored three runs in the top of the sixth and Ahern was pulled at the start of the eighth.
Connor Malcom relieved Ahern but gave up three more runs and Chanhassen led 6-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth. Miesville was unable to mount a comeback and dropped game one 6-1. Ahern pitched seven innings and gave up three runs on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Malcom Gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in one inning worked. Mark Moriarty pitched the ninth and gave up just one hit. Leading the offense was Hammes with the lone RBI and Brian Sprout with three singles. The Mudhens racked up plenty of hits in the game but lacked situational hitting and stranded eight runners.
Game two saw a rough start for Miesville as Chanhassen scored four runs in the bottom of the first and Mudhen starter Steve Maher was chased after just 1 ⅓ innings. He was relieved by Deryk Marks who was sharp and allowed his team to make a comeback. Marks hit a two-run home run that scored Matt Van Der Bosch in the top of the fourth to cut the Red Birds' lead to 4-2. They then scored two more runs in the top of the seventh when Van Der Bosch hit a two-run double that scored Goulet and Horsch. However, Marks faced the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the seventh and was pulled in favor of Olean, who gave up two hits that scored those three runners before escaping the inning. Down 7-4, Miesville was unable to make a comeback and lost the championship game 7-4.
Maher gave up four runs on five hits and two walks in his 1 ⅓. Marks three 4 ⅔ innings and gave up three runs (all credited to him after he left) with three walks and one strikeout. Olena threw two innings and gave up the two hits with two strikeouts. Goulet led the team with two hits and scored a run, while Marks and Van Der Bosch each had two RBI. The top three batters in the Mudhens' batting order had four-out-of-five hits for the team, while the bottom six went a combined 1-for-19 with a run, two walks and six strikeouts.
Miesville finishes their season as Class B runners-up with an overall record of 34-5. Horsch, Van Der Bosch and Goulet were all named to the All-Tournament Team.