2023 Class AAAA Baseball State Championship: East Ridge 1, Rosemount 0
Posted: Friday, June 16, 2023 - 9:56 PM
In the final contest of the Minnesota State High School League’s Prep Championship, it came down to a game of inches.
Riley Schwellenbach’s RBI double in the top of the seventh inning was the big spark No. 2 East Ridge needed to capture a dramatic 1-0 victory over top-seeded Rosemount in the Class AAAA championship game on Friday, June 16 at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul. It was the second big-school baseball championship for the Woodbury-based school.
Schwellenbach, a senior center fielder, looped a fly ball with two outs that barely eluded two Rosemount outfielders that allowed East Ridge to score the game’s coveted first run of the game and the run that would pave the way to an upset victory.
Joseph Merchlewitz, the Raptors’ designated hitter, opened the seventh with a single. Griffin Johnston, East Ridge’s Senior Class President, was inserted as a pinch-runner for Merchelewitz. The next two East Ride batters bunted, which moved Johnston to third. Schwellenbach then lifted his fly ball to short right center to produce the only run the Raptors would need.
Maxwell Arlich, a junior lefthander that had kept Rosemount’s powerful attack at bay throughout, promptly retired the Irish in order to secure East Ridge’s second big-school title since 2019. The southpaw was in control the entire game, throwing 58 strikes and did not allow a Rosemount runner to get as far as second base. Carter Hegarty and Carson Blume had the two singles for the Irish. He walked two and struck out seven in a briskly-played game that lasted just 1 hour, 27 minutes.
It was the first 1-0 championship game among the large schools since 2012 when Eastview edged Bemidji by the same score.
The Raptors (20-8) threatened to score two other times before they scored their lone run. In the fifth inning, a single, a walk and a passed ball moved runners to second and third with two out. But Irish hurler Liam Bystol induced Schwellenback to ground out to end the threat. In the next inning, an error and a single placed runners on first and third with two out. Bystol retired Will Preimesberger on a fly ball to end the inning.
Bystol was solid as well in taking the hard-luck loss, allowing seven hits and striking out three batters in a 90-pitch effort.
It was the second state baseball crown for East Ridge, who defeated New Prague for the 2019 AAAA crown. Rosemount (19-7), which came off the deck with a 10-run sixth inning to defeat Edina in the semifinals, was playing in its 10th state baseball tournament but its first since 2008. It marked the second time the Irish had advanced to the title game. In 1995, they finished second to Brainerd for the Class AA crown.