Garretson found itself in a familiar position.
The Blue Jays have come close to winning the Class B state amateur baseball tournament on multiple occasions in the last four years -- reaching the finals in 2016 and the semifinals in 2018 -- but have come away empty each time.
After rolling through its first four games of the tournament this year by a combined score of 37-1, Garretson fell short once again on Sunday, this time to Alexandria 2-0. Instead, the Blue Jays took home the second-place trophy after making some uncharacteristic miscues defensively.
“It’s so tough to get here,” Garretson manager Aaron VanDeBerg said. “We have to enjoy it when we’re here and take it one game at a time, because it’s tough.”
Garretson had given up one run entering the championship game and were coming off a 5-0 shutout win over defending champion Canova -- traveling home after finishing the rain-delayed game at 1:06 a.m.
Still, the Angels doubled the Blue Jays’ run total and limited them to five hits in the game. The Garretson pitching staff finished the tournament having allowed one earned run and seven walks.
Derek Fischer pitched his second complete game on Sunday, allowing nine hits and struck out seven batters. He fanned 16 batters for the tournament and Garretson had 27 as a staff for the tournament, two fewer than its 29 hits allowed.
“It hurts giving up three runs and coming away with the runner-up,” VanDeBerg said. “Derek pitched his butt off. (Dustin Steckler) pitched the first game, Derek Quame played the third game and Nick Bonte, as well. Overall, we pitched really well in the tournament and fell one game short.”
Strong pitching was paired with mistake-free defense for the majority of the tournament. Garretson had three errors in the first four games, but doubled that mark against Alexandria and one of them led to the first and game-winning run.
In the fifth inning, Tyson Gau hit a routine ground ball that took a hop and nicked the tip of the glove of second baseman Jesse Brockhouse, allowing Peyton Smith to score from second base.
Derek Fischer and Brett Fischer had back-to-back errors in the seventh, but the Blue Jays were able to avoid damage when Smith was caught in a rundown between third and home plate.
“All year, we’ve prided ourselves on pitching and defense,” VanDeBerg said. “That one hurt a little bit, but I’m happy with the way we played defense.”