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Drakes take fourth in Class A tourney

Blackduck pitcher Aaron Nissen throws a pitch during Thursday night's MSHSL Class A quarterfinal game against BOLD. Nissen got the win in that game but took the loss for the Drakes in Friday's third-place game. Blackduck lost to Browerville 4-0 to finish the season 23-6. Rand Middleton | Forum Communications Co.

CHASKA - The Blackduck Drakes will have to settle for fourth.

Not bad for a team making its first-ever appearance at the state baseball tournament.

Although Aaron Nissen pitched the Drakes (23-5) into the MSHSL Class A semifinals with a gritty performance on the mound in a 4-2 win over BOLD on Thursday night, the Drakes' bats went cold in the semifinal and third-place contests Friday afternoon at Chaska Athletic Park.

Saint Agnes topped Blackduck 7-0 in the semifinal game while Browerville took third place in the late game, winning 4-0.

The Aggies (22-6) advanced to Monday's state title game for the first time since winning it all in 2001. They'll take on Lac qui Parle Valley (18-9), which topped Browerville 4-1 in the other semifinal game.

"We're so proud of all of our kids," Blackduck head coach Dwight Kalvig said. "They played very well this weekend and came back with a fourth place trophy. I couldn't ask for anything more."

In the semifinal game, Blackduck starter Cody Bergquist held the Aggies scoreless in the first inning but Saint Agnes rallied to score one in the first, two in the second and two more in the third, chasing Bergquist in the third before he could record an out.

Dylan Weisert came in to pitch in relief of Bergquist and gave up two more runs in the fourth and another in the fifth.

The Aggies tacked on another in the top of the seventh to complete their 7-0 win.

Saint Agnes pitcher Charlie Turch stymied the Drakes in seven innings of work. He gave up only four hits and struck out four hitters.

Nissen recorded two of the four hits against Turch - both singles - while Shane Fenske and Galen Martin also singled.

In the second game, it was a similar story: The Drakes couldn't seem to get the big hits at key times against Browerville starter Reid Pearson.

The starter went the full seven innings for the Tigers (24-4), striking out only two but walking none. His defense also did a lot of work behind him, committing no errors despite eight Blackduck hits.

Nissen started the second game for Blackduck and gave up a pair of runs early. However, he settled down and didn't give up any more runs until the fifth, when the first three batters reached base.

Bergquist came in to relieve Nissen but couldn't leave the runners stranded and the Tigers went up 4-0.

The Drakes threatened with runners in both the sixth and seventh innings but couldn't get them home, completing Browerville's shutout.

"It was the same story in both games," Kalvig said. "We just couldn't get the big hits to get the guys home."

Eight out of the nine players in the Blackduck starting lineup hit safely, but all eight hits were singles. The Drakes stranded all eight.

Despite the early exit, Kalvig said that neither he nor the team is disappointed with their fourth-place finish.

"The boys are proud of themselves," he said. "This community backed these kids 100 percent of the way."

Although his four seniors - Nissen, Bergquist, Martin and Lucas Krabbenhoft - wanted to take first instead of fourth, their journey has been pretty remarkable.

"I tip my hat to the senior class," he said. "They did exactly what you wanted them to do, which is show good leadership the entire time."

And because there are only four seniors on the team, the Drakes have a great shot at making the trip back to the Twin Cities next year.

"We're very excited about the coming," Kalvig said. "We have a lot of good underclassmen and our junior varsity and junior high programs have some real talent. We're hoping we can make a run for years to come."

State Semifinal

Saint Agnes 7, Blackduck 0

Saint Agnes 012 210 1 - 7 9 0

Blackduck 000 000 0 - 0 4 2

Turch (W) and Knippenberg. K-4. BB-1.

Bergquist (L), Wiesert (3), Volk (7) and Fenske. K-4. BB-7.

Third-place game

Browerville 4, Blackduck 0

Blackduck 000 000 0 - 0 8 3

Browerville 200 020 x - 4 6 0

Nissen (L), Bergquist (5) and Fenske. K-2. BB-1.

Pearson (W) and Wollenburg. K-2. BB-1.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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