Tigers go 1-2 in St. Cloud to place fourth
BY DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Delano started nine seniors and played all 10 in the State Class AA baseball consolation title game Friday in St. Cloud as a way of saying thanks for being an iatrical part of the Tiger tradition.
After losing to Perham 3-1 and defeating Minnehaha Academy 5-2, Delano lost to Luverne 8-4, finishing the season 18-4 overall, fourth in its fourth straight state tournament.
“Any time you play in a state tournament it is always a nice accomplishment and we are proud of our guys,” said coach Dan Paulson. “We will have a few guys coming back next year, but it is hard to replace the leadership shown from players who have been to state two or three times.”
Delano played in the first state baseball tournament where the top five teams were seeded. The Tigers got the No. 2 seed behind St. Cloud Cathedral and opened against Perham. Neither would advance to the title game.
Despite out-hitting Perham 8-4 and only striking out four times, Delano could not capitalize on the opportunities. Paulson said Tiger batters hit the ball hard at defenders, but Perham played great defense, had timely hitting and got some breaks.
Along with two errors in the field, Delano had a base-running error that took a potential run off the bases. Juniors Hunter Hart and Justin Oja both had two hits, with one each by senior Jon Dahl, junior Toby Hanson, junior Christian Triplett and senior Adam Schleper. Senior pitcher Zach Muchenhirn had 11 strikeouts and two walks, yielding one earned run.
Delano bounced back to defeat Minnehaha Academy 5-2. Schleper worked five innings on the mound, allowing six hits. Taylor Larson gave up two hits in two innings of relief. Muchenhirn powered the offense with three hits, including two doubles. Hart and Triplett both had two hits, with one each by Dahl, junior Noah Stone and Schleper.
Going with as many players as possible, Delano lost the consolation title game 8-4 to Luverne. Both teams had nine hits and two errors.
After the Tigers built a 4-1 lead, Luverne scored seven unanswered runs. Delano used five pitchers, including senior Kurtis Burley, Larson, junior Tyler Hannan, Stone and senior Sam Harris.
Muchenhirn was 3 for 4, Hanson was 2 for 2 with a triple and double and Dahl was 2 for 2 with a triple. Other hits were by senior John Celander and Schleper.
The state tourney roster included seniors Vince Chorley, Sam Fink and Keenan Lindquist, plus sophomores Nate Meyers and Brent Norling. Assistant coaches are Jeff Olson, Paul Jaunich and Darren Knight.
Hanson led the offense batting .547 with 35 hits, 34 RBIs, 11 doubles and seven home runs. Dahl batted .425 with 31 hits and Muchenhirn was the other regular hitting over .400. He was 6 for 10 at state, improving to .411. Five regulars batted more than .300, including Schleper (.383), Hart (.379), Stone (.341), Oja (.327) and Triplett (.324).
The pitching leader was Muchenhirn, going 5-1 with four saves and an earned run average of 1.10 in 44.2 innings. He struck out 56 batters and walked 13. Schleper worked 29 innings , going 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA.
Muchenhirn was named to the All-State Tournament team and selected to play in the Play Ball MN All-Star series June 21 and 22 in Chaska. He also was Academic All-State and on the state coaches All-State team along with Hanson. Muchenhirn was All-Conference along with Schleper, Dahl and Hanson.
Honorable Mention All-Conference went to Hart, Triplett, Oja and Stone. Hanson was named team offensive player of the year and Muchenhirn the top pitcher.
Delano received Academic All-State Gold Division team award. Captains for next year are Hanson, Triplett, Oja, Hart, Stone and Norling.