Section 7AA baseball: Marshall's Marsolek stymies Esko in 5-0 shutout
The freshman pitcher fanned seven and carried a no-hitter into the final frame against the top-seeded Eskomos.
DULUTH — The red-hot, top-seeded Esko Eskomos ran into a buzzsaw in the form of starting left-handed pitcher Owen Marsolek of No. 2 seed Duluth Marshall in their Section 7AA baseball semifinal.
Marsolek, a freshman, showed poise well beyond his years on the bump for the Hilltoppers—recording 6 2/3 hitless innings with seven strikeouts to lead his club to a 5-0 victory, Tuesday, June 7, at Wade Stadium in Duluth. Marsolek carried a no-hit bid into the final frame and came within one out of completion before Joey Antonutti broke it up with a base hit.
The fearless approach displayed by Marsolek on the hill is something that coach Nick Garramone has come to expect.
“He’s a fierce competitor that’s going to challenge anybody regardless of ability, age. (It) doesn’t matter,” Garramone said. “He’s going to get in their face and he’s going to fight.”
Esko coach Ben Haugen came away slightly disappointed by his team’s approach at the plate but tipped his cap to Marsolek for his performance.
“We knew that he’s got a really good changeup and is going to mix up speeds and tempo, but it’s a different story when you get in the game,” Haugen said. “He’s a tough lefty. You don’t see lots of lefties. He has good moxie. I thought our approach (at the plate) at times kind of wavered, but you gotta tip your cap to him. I thought he did a good job.”
Esko starting pitcher Cale Haugen was equal to the task for much of the contest in delivering four shutout innings to start, and went on fan 10 Hilltopper hitters to mark his fifth-straight outing with double-digit strikeouts.
The strong effort came despite having an extended gap between starts.
“Cale hasn’t pitched in two weeks. He was rusty and ran out of gas at the end,” coach Haugen said. “But it is what it is.”
The Esko ace was unable to keep the Hilltoppers off the board in the fifth frame when Deegan Hoffbauer was driven home via an infield single by Mason Boos, who led off the inning with a walk. An RBI groundout from Carter Boos scored the second and final run of the inning.
The Eskomos had their best chance to even the score in the latter half of the inning with back-to-back walks to put the tying run at first with one out. The scoring threat was promptly eliminated on the ensuing at-bat with a double play marking the end of the inning with a runner left stranded.
The Hilltoppers went on to add an insurance run in the top of the sixth with an RBI base hit from Aaden Westerbur before adding two additional runs off Esko pitcher Sam Haugen in the top of the seventh with a two-RBI single by Marsolek.
WP: Owen Marsolek 7IP, 0R, 1H, 3BB, 7K. LP: Cale Haugen 6.0IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 4BB, 10K; Sam Haugen 1.0IP, H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, K. M: Mason Boos 2x4, RBI; Carter Boos 1x3, BB, R, RBI; Marsolek 1x3, BB, R, 2RBIs; Aaden Westerbur 1x4, BB; Deegan Hoffbauer 1x3, BB, R; Ethen Carlson 1x3, R. E: Joey Antonutti 1x3.
Proctor 11, Esko 9
No. 4 seed Proctor (17-8) secured the final spot in the Section 7AA championship after stringing together 12 hits in an 11-8 win over Esko (20-5) in the elimination bracket final at Wade Stadium.
The loss marks the end of the Eskomos' season.
The Rails held a 6-0 lead through two innings after taking advantage of a pair of fielding errors and run-scoring hits by Samuel Johnson and Tanner Ross. Esko battled back to make it a one-run game with a bases-clearing double by Ty Christensen in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After a three-run frame for Proctor in the fifth, the Rails added two additional runs in the sixth via a line drive RBI single from Blake Imhoff and an error in the outfield. The five-run lead proved too much for the Eskomos to battle back from despite putting together rallies in their final two at-bats.
The Rails earlier knocked out Aitkin 4-3 in an elimination game.