HARLAN — St. Albert and Coon Rapids-Bayard engaged in an offensive slugfest Tuesday night in the Class 1-A substate finals, but Coon Rapids-Bayard executed the knockout blow.
The No. 6 Crusaders came through with four pivotal runs in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference in an 11-9 victory over the Falcons at Jim Goeser Field.
Coon Rapids-Bayard faced an 8-7 deficit entering the sixth.
But the Crusaders took the lead for good in the inning, using an Isaac McAlister two-run homer to take a 9-8 advantage. The Crusaders added insurance runs later in the inning on a Liam McAlister squeeze bunt and a Michael Dentlinger RBI double.
The Falcons answered with a single run in their half of the sixth but came no closer.
Isaac McAlister finished the night with two hits, a walk, five RBIs and a run, but no hit proved bigger than his blast over the left-center field wall.
“He had been throwing first-pitch fastball pretty much the whole night,” Isaac McAlister said. “I was just looking to hit one hard to keep the ball rolling in that situation.”
He helped the Crusaders qualify for their fifth state tournament in school history. They earned the fifth seed and will face fourth-seeded Martensdale-St. Marys Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Coon Rapids-Bayard certainly didn’t play mistake-free baseball. The Crusaders committed six errors, including five through the first three innings. Those mistakes were a big reason why St. Albert was able to turn a 5-2 deficit into a tie game at the end of the third.
The Crusaders retook a 6-5 lead in the fourth before St. Albert took a 7-6 advantage in its half of the inning using a Travis Miller squeeze bunt that scored two runs.
Coon Rapids-Bayard tied the game in its half of the fifth before St. Albert took an 8-7 lead in the bottom half of the frame after Eli Finn scored from third base on a dropped-third strike.
That set the stage for Isaac McAlister’s heroics in the sixth. After Owen Pevestorf reached on an error, McAlister unloaded on a Jake Petry fastball.
After pulling within 11-9 in the sixth, St. Albert was retired in order for the first time all night, allowing Crusader fans to celebrate.
CR-B coach John Waddle, who has coached at the school for 32 years, said Tuesday’s game was one of the more unique postseason contests he’s seen.
“I told the umpire in about the sixth inning that it wasn’t the prettiest game that you’ll see in substate, but it’s certainly one of the more interesting ones,” he said. “For these kids to go through the tournament trail that they did — they didn’t have an easy game — we had four really quality opponents — in order to get this done, that was outstanding. St. Albert is tough.”
Miller paced the Falcons with two hits and three RBIs. Petry added three hits and four runs scored and Jon Meyerring and Tom Sneed each added two runs in the losing effort.
Petry, Meyerring, Sneed and Will Van Soelen played their final prep games.
“It was fun, I will say that much,” St. Albert coach Jeremy Petry said. “Aside from us coming up short, it was fun. To come out and give up a run, then come back and take the lead, then have them tie it up, all the things that went into it was fun.
“I hope the pain they feel with this loss doesn’t get lost.”
Coon Rapids-Bayard (29-6) 140 114 0 – 11 10 6
St. Albert (25-13) 203 211 0 – 9 10 3
W: Josh Esdohr. L: Jake Petry.
2B: CRB, Juan Trevino, Isaac McAlister, Eric Bruellman, Michael Dentlinger. SA, Jon Meyerring. HR: CRB, McAlister.