With teams as familiar as Canova and Flandreau, there is little room for error.
On Wednesday, two errors proved to be the difference when the two squared off for the eighth time in two years in a rematch of the 2018 Class B amateur baseball tournament title game, this time in the second round at Cadwell Park for the right to play in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
With the game tied in the top of the ninth, Cardinal shortstop Mitch Foster committed an error on a routine ground ball and pitcher Bret Severtson had a wild pick-off attempt that eventually led to Jared Miller’s sacrifice fly to score Justin Miller in Canova’s 3-1 win over Flandreau.
“We played as good as we could play,” Canova manager Dave Gassman said. “We could have gotten more hits or scored more runs, but we’re facing one of the best pitchers in the state. Credit Flandreau. They beat us in the district (tournament), we were lucky to beat them at state.”
Jared Campbell beat out a potential inning-ending double play to score a run for the Cardinals in the third and Jared Miller came back with a solo home run to tie the game for the Gang in the top of the fourth.
Aside from those two plays, the pitchers controlled the first eight innings of the game. Canova’s Trey Krier walked two batters and allowed seven hits, but stayed away from trouble for most of the night.
Meanwhile, a harmless ground ball by Justin Miller to lead off the ninth was bobbled by Foster. After Cole Gassman bunted Miller to second, Severtson and Foster could not connect on a wild pick-off attempt that put Miller on third to set up the game-winning sacrifice fly on the only two errors in the game.
“Mitch Foster is one of the best defensive shortstops in the state,” said Severtson, Flandreau’s player-manager. “He makes that play 99.9 percent of the time. It took a hop on him. It is what it is, that’s going to happen. We knew if we didn’t score more than one run, we wouldn’t win anyways.”
Severtson had pitched a masterful game, dashing away any notions of last year’s performance in the state championship game that saw him allow 10 runs on 10 hits, including a game-sealing grand slam by Garrett Gassman.
This time around, Severtson struck out six and surrendered four hits -- without a walk -- but two of those four hits sailed over the left field fence, with the exclamation point coming from Gassman yet again.
Moments after Canova took the lead, Severtson hung a fastball over the plate and Gassman knew the ball was gone before he left the batter’s box.
“Playing in Cadwell you never know for sure,” Gassman said. “But when a ball feels as good as it does like that off the bat, you get a pretty good idea. I the trajectory of it and I thought it had a pretty good shot of going out. I probably would have looked pretty silly if it bounced off the wall.”
Jared Miller was 2-for-3 with two RBIs for Canova, which faces the Dell Rapids Mudcats on Friday.