BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Delano is making a habit of not only playing in the state baseball tournament, but leaving with some hard earned hardware.
For the third straight season, the Tigers won two of three games at the State Class AA tournament, claiming the consolation crown the past two years. Delano was second at state the year prior.
"Not many teams can say they won their last game of the season," said senior Tyler Wolfe about the winning the state consolation title in back to back seasons. The pitcher-shortstop was named to the All-Tournament team.
Delano opened state tourney play with a 5-0 loss to defending state champ St. Cloud Cathedral, which scored all five runs in the second inning. St. Cloud bunched five of the eight hits to go with a walk and a Tiger error.
Tiger bats managed just four hits, one each by Wolfe, Toby Hanson, Christian Triplett and Eric Berglund. Zach Muchenhirn pitched the distance.
Wolfe started the second game against Minneapolis Washburn, a team that suffered its first loss of the season the day before.
"I definitely went out there with more adrenalin than normal because we were still upset about the game before and wanted to get to the next game," adds Wolfe. "We came ready to go."
Delano pulled out a 2-0 victory over Washburn when both teams had just five hits. Wolfe pitched the distance with no walks and six strikeouts.
Different players again got the hits, including Wolfe, Hanson, Cody Mathisen, Berglund and Dean Halonen.
The bats were more active when collecting 10 hits in the 6-1 victory over Cannon Falls in the consolation title game. Mathisen went the distance, allowing eight hits.
This time nine different players got into the hitting action. Adam Kraft led with two hits. Hanson and Triplett both drove home two runs on one hit. Other hits were by Muchenhirn, Wolfe, Mathisen, Hunter Hart, Halonen and Berglund.
Wolfe has seen a lot of Tiger baseball success since starting on varsity as a ninth-grader when Delano was one game away from advancing to state. The team would go to state in his next three seasons, winning two games each time.
The season is not done for Wolfe, who was selected to play for the Metro West team in the Lions All-Star series this weekend in Chaska. Wolfe plays at 7 p.m. Friday, June 22, plus at 12:30 and 6 p.m. Saturday. He is expected to pitch and play in the infield.
He will be joined by two players on his winter league team and two who are going to be teammates at Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa next season.
Wolfe had offers to play at other colleges but saw that DMACC was one of the top programs in the country and liked the way the coach worked his players hard.
He wants the work and help to develop his baseball skills. Wolfe plays baseball year around, including in a local fall league and for the Minnesota Blizzard winter league team that travels on weekends to warm weather cities.
Delano finished the season at 20-8, losing twice to state champion Holy Family Catholic, who defeated St. Cloud Cathedral in the title game Monday.
Hitting leaders were Halonen (.387), Wolfe (.378), Hanson (.373) and Muchenhirn (.341). Wolfe pitched 54 innings, going 6-1 with three saves and posting an earned run average of 0.78. Muchenhirn also worked 54 innings, going 6-2 with a 1.43 ERA. Mathisen was 6-2 and finished with a 1.60 ERA in 48 innings of work.
It is rare that Delano will return so many players with varsity experience after having senior-dominated squads the past two years. Coach Dan Paulson started six sophomores at times in Triplett, Hanson, Hart, Adam Kraft, Damon Longstreet and Justin Oja.
Top juniors returning are Kurtis Burley, Adam Schleper, Muchenhirn, Ben Ditty and Jon Dahl. Graduating seniors are Wolfe, Mathisen, Berglund, Halonen, Matt Lemke, Ben Jerde, Scott Kliszcz Justin Mielke.
Assistant coaches were Darren Knight, Jeff Olson and Paul Jaunich.