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Baseball: Wild game puts Raptors in section championship

The East Ridge baseball team celebrates after scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Shortstop Max Gamm throws to first base to complete a double play during the June 2 section playoff game against Rosemount. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

It all came down to survival for the East Ridge baseball team on June 2 in Dundas.

The Raptors defeated Rosemount 3-2 in 10 innings to advance through the winner's bracket to the Class 2A, Section 3 championship. Now they are one win away from the state tournament.

Charlie Larson drove home the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th. He was looking for a pitch to drive and was able to strike a fly ball far enough into left-center to score teammate Joe Trollen from third base.

"I was just hoping for a fastball, something I could control and hit somewhere," Larson said.

Trollen sprinted home for the game-winning run, touching home plate despite some contact from the catcher on a close play. Trollen reached first base on a throwing error in the 10th inning and moved up to third thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Max Gamm and another throwing error.

When the ball was caught in the outfield, Trollen was ready to make the sprint home.

"I heard coach Sprout from the dugout tell me I had to go, so I didn't think too much there," he said.

East Ridge led 1-0 heading into the top of the seventh when Rosemount's Keenan Wenzel scored the game-tying run on a sacrifice bunt by Griffin Lanoue, forcing extra innings.

The Raptors also trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, but a two-out single by Brandon Petrie drove home Max Moris to extend the game.

Both teams benefited from missed plays, as Rosemount committed five errors and East Ridge made three.

"A lot of ups and downs, but our team, we just fight through adversity and scrap out dubs," said Larson after the 10-inning victory.

Pitcher Conor Bachman started for the Raptors, tossing 5 2/3 innings and allowing no runs on four hits.

Head coach Brian Sprout said the win against Rosemount was the craziest game he had been part of where the Raptors ended up winning. The only other game that came to mind was a 2015 7-6 loss to Mahtomedi in the Class 3A, Section 4 playoffs. The Zephyrs came back from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat East Ridge 7-6.

East Ridge will face either Rosemount or Burnsville in the section championship on June 7. With many of the teams in the section having top-end starting pitching to rely on, Sprout said the Raptors will need to be ready with the first pitch in the section championship game.

"Whoever we're going to play, it is going to be a really good team that pitches really well," he said. "So we've got to be ready to go against whoever and compete right away. If you jump right away and take your opportunities, things will happen for you."

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