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Baseball: Burnsville takes two to end East Ridge's season

East Ridge baserunner Cam Hunter is caught in a rundown between third and home plate in the first inning of game two against Burnsville in the Class 4A, Section 3 baseball championships Wednesday. Photo by John Molene1 / 4
East Ridge's Joe Trollen is tagged out at second on a steal attempt in game two of the Class 4A, Section 3 championship Wednesday. Photo by John Molene2 / 4
Senior pitcher Conor Bachman of the Raptors bears down as he throws in the first inning of the second game against Burnsville. Photo by John Molene3 / 4
East Ridge infielder Max Gamm makes a stop and throws to first for an out in game one of the section finals against Burnsville Wednesday at Memorial Park in Dundas. Photo by John Molene4 / 4

Too many East Ridge miscues in the first game and too much Burnsville pitching in the second doomed the Raptors bid for a state tournament berth.

Top-seeded and eighth-ranked Burnsville advanced to the state tournament by sweeping East Ridge in a pair of Class 3A, Section 3 games at Memorial Park in Dundas on June 7. The Blaze won the first game 4-3 in a thriller, then dominated play in the nightcap for a 7-1 win.

The Raptors were a play away from winning the first game a couple of times, but couldn't quite get over the hump.

"A couple mistakes," East Ridge coach Brian Sprout said. "I don't want to say that that cost us games it's just a few plays. It was a one-run game, and that's what happens. It's always a couple plays like that.

"We had two opportunities to win a game, and I think they competed really well all the way through," Sprout added. "We just didn't have it. We didn't have quite enough at the end there."

East Ridge led 3-1 early in the first game, but couldn't overcome errors and miscues at critical times. With two outs in the sixth in a 3-3 game, a Burnsville batter hit a dribbler back to the pitcher. But he couldn't handle it, and the Blaze scored the go-ahead run.

Burnsville's pitching dominated the nightcap. East Ridge got on the scoreboard first with a run in the top of the first inning. That would prove the only run of the game for the Raptors. Burnsville, meanwhile, got to East Ridge pitchers for two runs in the third, two in the fourth and four more in the fifth to take control of the game. The Blaze out-hit the Raptors 9-to-5 in the second game.

East Ridge ended its season with a 16-9 record.

Burnsville takes a 21-6 record into the state tournament.

It was the second straight season the Raptors have lost to Burnsville in section play, although last year's game wasn't a knockout punch like these were.

"Obviously we wanted to go as far as we possibly could," Sprout said. "It was a goal for all these guys right at the start of the season. They had plans of being in the state tournament from the very beginning of every conversation we had. I'd say they surprised the heck out of the coaching staff with the way they played so well throughout the year. It was just a tremendous amount of fun."

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