MANKATO - There's a good reason why Evan Ellingworth was named KEYC-TV's prep athlete of the week two weeks ago - the Mankato Loyola senior right-hander can flat out pitch.
Ellingworth displayed stellar command of his pitches, recording 11 strikeouts and issuing only one walk en route to firing a three-hit complete-game gem to propel the Crusaders to an 8-0 baseball playoff victory over the Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Knights on Thursday in Mankato.
Mankato Loyola (12-7) advances to face either Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial or Waterville-Elysian-Morristown at 4 p.m. Saturday in another Section 2A elimination game at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato.
WAITING FOR THE CALL — Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman catcher Tristan Maday and Knights’ pitcher Jeremy Smith (left) await the umpire’s call after Maday tagged Mankato Loyola runner James Marti during Section 2A baseball playoff action Thursday at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato. Marti just beat the throw to the plate to receive a safe call. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Martin Luther/GHEC/ Truman ended its season with a 13-7 record.
"You have to give their pitcher (Ellingworth) credit for throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count early and often," said Knights mentor Scott Chirpich. "We dug ourselves an early hole and couldn't get out of it.
"I thought we had a good season, but it's tough to see it end."
Ellingworth retired the first six Knight batters as the Crusader offense produced two runs each in the bottom of the first and second.
Kyle Reynolds drew a one-out walk before wheeling all the way to third base on Shane Sellner's single to the right-center gap to set the table for Loyola during its initial at-bat.
Knights' starting pitcher Jeremy Smith got a groundout for the second out, but an ensuing error on Andrew Sweere's sharp grounder allowed the Crusaders to plate two unearned runs.
Unfortunately for Smith, the ML/GHEC/Truman left-hander allowed eight runs - all unearned - on only four hits in four innings of work to take the loss.
A walk, Mark Kortuem's bunt hit, three wild pitches, two errors and a steal of home by Kortuem resulted in two more Crusader runs during the last of the second en route to a 4-0 lead.
Loyola doubled its lead with four runs in the fourth to put the game out of reach, with Ellingworth pitching in shutdown mode.
Ellingworth even assisted his own cause by delivering a two-run single - the only Crusader hit of the fourth frame.
Alex Weihe lined a leadoff single during the top of the third to spoil Ellingsworth's no-hit bid before ML/GHEC/Truman teammate Sam Geistfeld belted a two-out single. Ellingworth, however, preserved his shutout by getting a foul popout.
Smith drew a leadoff walk during the Knights' seventh inning and Chandler Greier singled one out later, but Ellingworth closed out his complete-game performance by notching strikeouts No. 10 and 11.
Smith struck out five and issued five walks in four frames to absorb the loss. Dylan Petrowiak allowed only one hit in two shutout innings of relief, striking out two and walking one for the Knights.
MLGT 000 000 0 - 0 3 5
Loyola 220 400 x - 8 5 1
Jeremy Smith (LP), Dylan Petrowiak (5) and Tristan Maday. Evan Ellingworth (WP) and Shane Sellner.
LOB-Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 5; Mankato Loyola 6.