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Baker strikes out 20 hitters as Dimock-Emery knocks off Canova

Dimock-Emery pitcher Chris Baker stood on the mound, stared at each Canova hitter and started his jerky, jolty, rapid release.

Baker finished with a complete game four-hitter, recorded 20 strikeouts, and allowed only two hits.

All smiles after the game, the 2008 NAIA honorable mention All-American at Dakota Wesleyan walked off the field pleased with his team's 3-2 win over the Canova Gang.

"I hate it when people make contact against me," Baker said. "I really like striking people out."

Luckily for Baker, it was rare that Canova made contact. Twenty of the 27 outs were punchouts, and the starting pitcher for Dimock-Emery struck out the side four separate times in Wednesday night's late game at Cadwell Park.

"I'm real exhausted," Baker added. "But 20 strikeouts isn't a career high for me, I struck out 23 earlier this year."

Dimock-Emery jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first when third baseman Phil Johnson singled to center, scoring Doug Sudbeck. The Raptors added another run in the third inning when Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to score second baseman Sam Pischke.

The Raptors held a 2-0 lead off of Johnson's two early RBI.

"The guys in front of did a good job of getting on base," Johnson said. "I just tried to hit the ball hard."

Baker cruised through the first six innings, never really getting into any trouble.

But in the seventh inning, Bill Sudbeck replaced Brad Bratscher at first base. This proved to be a defensive mistake as Sudbeck dropped a routine pop fly and allowed the Canova leadoff man to reach base.

Baker then struck out the next hitter, but allowed back-to-back doubles by Jason Miller and Chad Schulz, which tied the game at two.

"The first time I got up, he hit me in the head with a curveball," Schulz said. "I knew he'd throw me a fastball and I hit it."

The next two hitters struck out to end the inning and left Schulz stranded at second base.

Dimock-Emery answered back in the bottom of the inning. Pischke singled over the shortstop's head with one out to spark the Raptors inning. On a 2-1 count, Pischke was sent stealing second base. After an errant throw by the catcher, Pischke was standing 90 feet away from home, the game's winning run.

After an intentional walk to Johnson, who was 2-for-2 on the night, right fielder Steve Ernster came up with a solid base hit to right field that landed about five feet from the foul line.

Baker struck out four batters over the eighth and ninth innings to finish the game.

"He threw a great game," Schulz said. "Hats off to him, he was on his "A" game tonight."

Dimock-Emery will face Akron in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Friday night at 8 p.m.