Back when they were sophomores at Minneapolis High School, Nolan White, Trent Moeckel, Daniel Watson, Spencer Davidson, and Colton Bradford all received a taste of state baseball for the first time. After making history, that group was denied a season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving a special pride of Lions just one more chance of postseason glory.
When the opportunity presented itself, those five seniors were ready.
White dazzled on the mound, setting up a walk-off RBI for Watson in a 3-2 victory over Hoisington in the Class 3A Regional semifinals. Davidson followed with an overpowering performance on the hill while Moeckel drove in two in a 7-3 championship win over TMP-Marian, propelling the Lions to the state tournament for the second straight season. Minneapolis will take a 15-6 record to K-State’s Tointon Family Stadium next Thursday.
Minneapolis had a rocky start to the day. Hoisington recorded three blooper singles and Minneapolis’ defense suffered from two errors, leading to two runs for the Cardinals in the first inning. The Lions answered with a run in the first, delivered on a RBI-single by Davison, scoring Ryker Nelson.
White allowed another hit and a walk in his second inning of work, but he settled in, retiring the next 11 batters. During that stretch, Davidson scorched a hit to right field, plating Bradford to tie the game. Shortly after, Minneapolis loaded the bases, but failed to break open the contest, settling for a 2-2 score after three.
Hoisington’s Holt Hanzlick logged the Cardinals’ first hit since the second to lead off the sixth frame. However, Tony Moore lined one to short while Hanzlick took off, and Moeckel registered two outs on one play.
Moeckel gave Hoisington life with a throwing mistake to open the final frame. That runner would reach third, but White ended his outing with back-to-back strikeouts, lining up the game-winner. White gave up four hits and struck out six.
The Cardinals gifted the Lions a free bag with one out on a wild throw. Moore issued a pair of walks, loading the bags for Watson. Watson slapped the ball down the third base line. Cole Steinert threw it to home, but the catcher couldn’t handle it, giving Minneapolis the win.
MINNEAPOLIS 7, TMP-MARIAN 3
Davidson showed little signs of trouble in the nightcap. Although he coughed up a single and gave up a walk to open the game, the Fort Hays State commit didn’t flinch, striking out the side.
Moeckel did drive in the first run of the contest, but it was the six TMP errors that did in the Monarchs. Minneapolis plated a run in each of the first two frames and then scored twice in the third, highlighted by a Davidson RBI-double, powering Minneapolis to a 4-0 cushion.
TMP’s patience at the plate was effective, knocking Davidson out of the game after the fifth. However, the hard-throwing hurler struck out 12 and gave up three hits.
White took Davidson’s spot in the sixth and gave up a pair of walks, one that came around and scored on the first and only error of the game for Minneapolis. White regained his command and recorded two strikeouts, keeping the score at 4-1.
Minneapolis tacked on three insurance runs in the home half of the inning. Nelson and Moeckel each had a RBI-single. White brought in the final run on a double.