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Hentges, Mounds View roll to second consecutive state championship
During the postgame celebration of Mounds View High School's 2013 state baseball championship, Sam Hentges wore a Mustangs banner like a cape, in the fashion of a super hero. A year later as Mounds View gathered on the diamond at Target Field with another championship trophy on Tuesday, there was no cape for Hentges, but he certainly deserved it.
Hentges threw a five-hit, complete-game shutout to lead the Mustangs to a 9-0 victory over Eden Prairie and their second consecutive state title. Mounds View becomes the first big-school repeat champion since the late 1990s.
The shutout was the second of the tournament for Hentges, who got a chance to start twice because weather pushed the Class AAA final back three days.
In addition to the pitching performance, Hentges also showed off his prowess at the plate by going 3-for-3 with a run batted in. His first hit came in the bottom of the first inning as he drove a ball off the right-field wall.
In the quarterfinals on June 12 at Midway Stadium, Hentges held Elk River to two hits in a 4-0 shutout. He struck out 11, including six in a row at one point, against Elk River.
Hentges was one of three Mustangs named to the all-tournament team. He was joined by Wyatt Meyer and Tucker Gran. Meyer went 2-for-3 against Eden Prairie and finished the tournament 4-for-8.
Gran also went 4-for-8 with two hits apiece against Elk River and Lakeville North.
Mounds View opened the scoring against Eden Prairie when Hentges doubled in the first inning and Joe Janey, running for Hentges, scored on Charlie Callahan's triple. Callahan went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.
That would be it for the scoring until the sixth inning as Hentges and Eden Prairie starting pitcher Corey Binger locked up in a duel. Binger held Mounds View to three hits through five innings.
Mounds View finally broke through with an eight-run sixth inning. The Mustangs banged out six hits and also benefitted from two Eden Prairie errors.
With the lead more than secure, Hentges returned to the mound for the seventh inning and closed out the game with a lineout, a strikeout and a groundout.
Other players who had notable performances in the championship final were Joe Fredrickson and Ryan Plasencia. Fredrickson went 3-for-4 with a run scored and a run driven in.
Plasencia turned in a pair of highlight-reel defensive plays at second base. The first came in the first inning as he ranged to his left to field a ground ball and then made an accurate throw to Fredrickson at the second base bag to start a double play. Plasencia also make a leaping play in the seventh inning to snare a line drive and keep the shutout intact.
Mounds View (21-6) finished the season on a 15-game winning streak and lost just once in its final 20 games following a 2-5 start. The back-to-back state titles are a first for a Class AAA team and the first in the big class since Cretin-Derham Hall won three straight from 1996-98, when baseball had two classes. Mounds View is also the first team to post back-to-back shutouts in the finals since Richfield in 1971 and 1972.
The last three Class AAA state-title games have been shutouts. Eastview blanked Bemidji 1-0 in 2012. The last losing team to score a run in the Class AAA final was Maple Grove, which lost 6-5 to Burnsville in 2011.
Brian Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.