Chanhassen had struggled to hit with runners in scoring position but Sunday against Blaine in an elimination game at Delano, the Red Birds did have to worry about it as much in a 9-0 win to advance to the Class B championship game.
The Red Birds got a solo home run to left field from Mike Jurgella in the first inning and scored four runs on one hit in the fifth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Chanhassen had not scored more than two runs in any of its five previous state tournament games.
Brandon Arnold reached on an error to open the fifth and the Fusion issued four consecutive walks to score two runs. Garrett Fischer drew a bases-loaded walk to score Arnold while Riley Johnson and Justin Anderson followed with RBI walks. Derek Smith reached on a fielder’s choice as Blaine recorded a force out at home. Aaron Kloeppner brought in another run on a fielder’s choice.
The Red Birds tacked on two runs in the eighth after Arnold hit a lead-off double and scored on Nick Smith’s single to right field. Garrett Fischer crossed the plate when the Fusion committed an error on a fly ball to center field to make it 7-0.
Chanhassen got two more runs in the top of the ninth after Derek Smith and Aaron Kloeppner hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Smith advanced to third on Kloeppner’s single and Kloeppner went to second on the throw to third. Ryan Diers grounded out to score Smith and Arnold hit a sacrifice fly to score Kloeppner.
Jurgella and Arnold each finished 2-for-6 while Nick Smith went 3-for-3. Derek Smith also had two hits for the Red Birds.
Blaine walked nine hitters and danced out of trouble the first five innings, throwing a runner out at the plate in the third inning and working around a pair of walks in the second and fourth innings.
The Fusion defeated the Red Birds Friday 6-1 as they got Chanhassen ace John Straka for six runs on 10 hits in 5 ⅔ innings.
Chris Choles limited the Fusion to four base runners in a two-hit shutout. He struck out seven and walked one.
Chanhassen won twice last year on Labor Day against Miesville to claim the state title, the Red Birds will have to do it again this year but against Dundas, which defeated Blaine 5-4 earlier Sunday to advance to the title game.