A month ago, Saint Agnes baseball coach Mike Streitz had a long-range vision for his team. The Aggies had split their first 10 games of the season, but Streitz saw glimmers that he hoped would blossom into more success as the weather warmed up.
The focus from the start was to have the lineup and pitching rotation intact by mid-May. “The second half of the season will be better,” he predicted at the time. “I am confident we’ll hit better. We just need to field better as well.”
He turned out to be right. The Aggies will take a 16-7 overall won-loss mark into the Section 4AA championship game against St. Croix Prep (17-6) June 10 at Barnes Field at 2:30 p.m. The Aggies peppered the Lions, 15-5, on May 12 in their initial 2021 appearance at Barnes. After that game, the Lions turned things around and their June 8 win over St. Paul Academy gave them 10 wins in their last 11 games.
An Aggie win will give them a seventh appearance in the MSHSL baseball tournament. Should St. Croix Prep win the 2:30 p.m. game, a second winter-take-all battle would take place that same day.
This year’s Class AA quarterfinals and semifinals are in St. Cloud June 15-16. The AA title game is at Target Field on June 18 at 1:00 p.m.
It doesn’t matter if it is the World Series in October or prep baseball in June. To stay in the championship hunt, a team needs to get some clutch hits as well as good pitching and fielding. Streitz points to some key statistics as reasons why the Aggies are one game away from the state tournament.
On May 3, the team was:
Since May 3, the team has cut:
Isaac Schmidt, a junior, has been on a tear at the plate with a .448 batting average. In 95 total plate appearances, Schmidt has reach base 41 times. Unsurprisingly, he leads the team in runs scored with 23. John Gutzman, a senior, is hitting a solid .378 with a .595 slugging percentage.
Pitching was a real unknown at the start of the season. As a result, the team often used 3-5 pitchers for a game. (13 in all have been called into service this spring.) Mikael Dahlstrom, a junior, has been a stalwart, posting a 7-1 overall won-loss mark with a 2.14 ERA and a team leading 28 strikeouts. Dahlstrom became the first Aggie pitcher to advance to the seventh inning in the June 5 decision over St. Paul Academy. “He gave up a hit and it just seemed like the right time,” Streitz said. Elijah Pentecost, a senior, took over and retired the Spartans on 14 pitches to end the game.
Pentecost is 2-0. Senior Edmund Schmitz is 3-0. All will be ready for June 10.
So will John Patros. You might recall Patros had been ruled out for the season because of a back injury suffered last summer. The junior had spent the spring wearing a brace and cheering his teammates on. Recently, he was cleared to return to the field and encamped himself at his familiar shortstop position. “He made a terrific play on a pop fly the other day,” Streitz recalled. “Having him there has helped solidify the infield.”