All week, the Stillwater Area baseball team reminisced.
The Ponies thought about their state quarterfinal loss to Forest Lake a year ago. They remembered David Koll’s strong pitching performance, and they reminded themselves of Rangers pitcher Evan Johnson shutting down their offense during a five-hit shutout.
Then, the Ponies went to work.
Stillwater redeemed themselves Thursday with a 9-0 victory over Forest Lake in the Class AAA quarterfinals at Midway Stadium in St. Paul. The win set up a matchup with Maple Grove on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the state semifinals.
“It’s almost indescribable to know that your team is clicking on all cylinders at the point when it counts,” Koll said.
Like last year, Koll and Johnson squared off on the hill. But while Koll was masterful—allowing no runs on five hits—Johnson’s defense didn’t hold up behind him. He left the game after 3 1/3 innings having given up one earned run and trailing 6-0.
Stillwater picked up an early run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead, then poured on five runs in the third thanks to four separate RBI hits to extend the lead.
“That’s pretty much what we talked about—we really feel like with Forest Lake, if you fall behind them and you have to play for a big inning, it’s going to be tough,” coach Mike Parker said. “Coach (Brian) Raabe is too good of a coach to give up a four or five spot when he’s ahead.”
So the Ponies (20-5) continued to put the ball in play, adding runs in every inning but the second and sixth.
They got RBIs from seven different players, led by Pad Getchell’s big night at the plate. Getchell went 5-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs to lead the team in hitting.
“I just had a bunch of adrenaline,” Getchell said. “It kind of took over, I guess. The ball just looks a ton bigger.”
The run support was more than enough for Koll, who improved to 9-1 on the year and enjoyed a little redemption from a year ago. In last year’s 2-0 quarterfinal loss, Koll allowed the Rangers (20-7) two runs on seven hits. This year, the Ponies’ bats backed him up.
“It definitely helps to pitch with a couple run lead,” Koll said. “It gives any pitcher a lot of confidence to pitch their game and not have any stress.”
The offensive production is nothing new this postseason. Stillwater has scored seven runs or more in four of its five playoff games. The Ponies accomplished that feat just five times in the regular season.
Stillwater hopes that trend continues against a 25-1 Maple Grove team on Friday.
“We know what it’s like to be here,” Koll said. “I think when the time comes we’ll show that we’re a veteran team.”
Stillwater 1 0 4 1 1 0 2 — 9 12 0
Forest Lake 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 5 3
Hitting leaders — Pad Getchell 5-5, 2R, 3RBI; Derek Albertson 1-4, 1R, 1RBI; Tom Forster 0-1, 1RBI; Joe Zorn 0-3, 1RBI; Will Anderson 24, 1R, 1RBI; Christian Abila 2-4, 1R, 1RBI; Austin Holmberg 2-3, 2R, 1RBI; Alex Huth 0-2, 2R
Pitching lines — David Koll W 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K