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Late offensive push sends Canova to state title game

Canova's Justin Miller connects with a pitch during Saturday's Class B state semifinal at the state amateur baseball tournament at Ronken Field in Sioux Falls. (Michael Brown / For The Daily Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- All throughout the Class B state amateur baseball tournament, the Canova Gang has scored runs in bunches.

In the eighth inning Saturday, the runs arrived right on time.

Trailing 7-6, Canova scored four runs in the eighth to gain control of their Class B state semifinal with Garretson in a 10-7 victory at Ronken Field at Augustana University.

Canova (20-5) advances to the Class B state championship game at 2 p.m. Sunday, facing either Harrisburg or Flandreau. It’s the Gang’s first state championship game appearance since 2009.

The big blast came from the bat of Jared Miller for Canova, which has now scored 48 runs in four games in the state tournament. After three walks loaded the bases, Miller drilled a liner to left field for a three-run double, putting Canova in front 9-7. Miller scored two batters later when Derek Miller reached base on an error to stretch the lead to 10-7.

Jared Miller finished the game with four RBIs and two runs scored. Trey Krier and Derek Miller each added two hits for the Gang, who had 11 hits. Justin Miller earned the win in relief of Brett Bosn and Gavin Gassman, throwing three shutout innings and allowing one hit. Tim Gassman closed the game, allowing two hits and one earned run.   

The Gang trailed 6-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning but tied the game with back-to-back singles from Krier and Derek Miller, followed a two-run, two-out double from Mike Newman.

Canova struck first with two runs in the first inning. Justin Miller scored on a wild pitch before Jared Miller singled to left field, scoring Dell Rapids Mudcats pick-up player Trevor Fruedenthal from second base for a 2-0 advantage.

Garretson picked up its big inning in the fourth frame. Three straight hits from Sam Johnson, Brady Bonte and Jesse Brockhouse led to three straight runs. After an RBI groundout from Brett Fischer to make it 4-2, Nick Bruning had an RBI double and Nick Bonte had an RBI sacrifice fly to stretch the lead to 6-2.

The Gang whittled the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth, with a bases-loaded RBI walk by Jason Miller, followed by an RBI groundout from Tim Gassman.

The Bluejays’ Derek Fischer took the loss, allowing 11 hits, 10 runs (nine earned) and striking out six in 7 1/3 innings. Dustin Steckler covered the remainder of the eighth inning, recording two outs. Bruning and Brockhouse each finished with three hits, while Steckler had two hits. The Bluejays (15-8) had 13 hits but left 13 on base.