Tyson Gau added another special performance on the mound to his collection of state championship game gems.
The Alexandria right-hander earned his fifth career Class B state championship game win on Sunday at Cadwell Park, using 111 pitches to carve through Garretson’s lineup reminiscent of his performance in Alexandria’s 2016 title over the Blue Jays.
He located and blew his fastball by batters, while mixing in his changeup and slider to left-handed hitters, as he used eight strikeouts to hold the Blue Jays scoreless in a 2-0 win.
“Tyson was special,” Alexandria catcher and manager Chris Marek said. “He hit every spot that he threw. He had all three pitches working, he worked ahead in the count. Tyson was special -- that’s all I can say. He put us on his back and took us to a championship.”
Gau having exceptional performances on amateur baseball’s biggest stage is nothing new. He’s a three-time tournament MVP who has now recorded 56 straight championship outs after completing his second consecutive complete game shutout -- Alexandria beat Larchwood (Iowa) 4-0 in 2017.
Whether it’s his determination and desire to win, which Marek said makes him so dominant in title games, or simply being “fired up” to pitch, Gau has been beyond stellar. He has tossed a complete game in all four of Alexandria’s state title wins, notching a 1.00 ERA and 32 strikeouts, including a one-run performance against Garretson in 2016.
“I always say if you can’t get fired up to be pitching in the state championship game, you probably shouldn’t be playing at all,” Gau said. “I have so much trust in the guys behind me, even if they do boot a ball, I know they’re going to get the next one.”
His dominance also pre-dates the Angels. As a Legion pick-up player, he won the 2010 championship with Dimock/Emery, foreshadowing his championship dominance. He tossed 5 1/3 innings of four-run baseball to pick up his first career amateur baseball win.
On Sunday, he struck out eight, allowed five hits and a walk, and went 2-for-5 at the plate.
“It ranks up there,” Gau said. “All of them are fun, we’ve had great teams for all of them. Especially this season, it was tough. We started 1-4 and everyone was putting us out, but we all got together and lit a fire underneath each other.”
Sunday’s matchup pitted two of the cleanest fielding teams in the tournament, but the error bug still bit both. Each team had three errors, despite Alexandria entering with five and Garretson with three through their first four games.
“I don’t know if it’s so much jitters,” Marek said. “The errors were balls -- other than the throwing error -- that were hit really hard. They put the ball in play and challenged us to make a play.”
Gau was able to pitch around them, including in the eighth when Brady Bonte reached on an error and moved to third with two outs.
Although, Derek Fischer wasn’t as fortunate as Peyton Smith scored on second baseman Jesse Brockhouse’s miscue in the fifth, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead. In fact, Garretson allowed three runs in the tournament, though only one was earned.
Alexandria’s errors came from an unexpected culprit, too. Cole Wenande made two errors at second, while Pierce Smith committed one at third. However, Wenande ended the season with a .939 fielding percentage, committing just seven errors in 115 chances this season.
“He’s by far the best defender we have on the team,” Gau said. “When he got back in the dugout, I kept telling him, ‘You can get the next one.’ ”
Bruning plays in two state tournaments on Saturday
Saturday’s three-hour weather delay was a blessing in disguise for Nick Bruning.
The Garretson baseball player began his day playing in the Minnesota Class C amateur baseball tournament in Delano, Minnesota. Bruning and his hometown team -- the Hadley Buttermakers -- lost to the Cologne Hollanders 5-2.
Bruning’s day ended at Mitchell as Garretson topped Canova in the Class B semifinals at Cadwell Park. Delano and Mitchell are 287 miles apart and 4 hour, 34-minute drive. Bruning has played in both states for years, and was again granted the ability to play in both states prior to the 2019 season.
“The plan was if our game got over in time that I would be able to make it back and at least catch part of this game,” Bruning said. “So luckily enough our game over there went quick enough so I was able to get back here.”
Hadley’s game began at 1:30 p.m. and due to the three-hour delay, Garretson’s game against Canova finished at 1:06 a.m. Bruning wasn’t in the Blue Jays’ initial starting lineup against the Gang, but was placed ninth in the order when he could make it back to Mitchell after the delay.
“The weather certainly helped out and as much as the delay was inconvenient, it ended up making things easier for me,” Bruning said.
In Minnesota, Bruning finished with one hit and pitched three relief innings. Against Canova, Bruning had a hit and an RBI.