By Mike Marsnik
The Minnetonka Millers eliminated the Metro Knights with a 7-3 victory Saturday night at Red Haddox Field in Bloomington. Righty Don Erdall allowed two runs over seven innings to notch the win. Shane Rondon and Alex Twenge each pitched an inning of relief. Rondon allowed one run on two hits. Laue allowed no runs on one hit to nail it down.
The Knights struck first in the bottom of the third. Carter Shook and Matthew Nunn both singled to lead off the inning. Shook took third on Nunn’s single and scored on a wild pitch.
The Millers took the lead in the top of the fifth, aided by a wild streak from Knights’ starter Josh Gaworski. He walked Steve Schmitz to open the frame, then plunked Chad Fleishman. Conner Trygstad drew a walk to load the bases. Kyle Hoffman reached on an error, scoring Schmitz. Leadoff hitter Blaine Rutledge hit a sacrifice fly to center, knocking in Fleishman, then Mike Davis drove in Trygstad with a single up the middle and the Millers led 3-1.
The Millers added three more in the next inning on a walk and three hits to take a 6-1 lead.
The Knights got one back in the sixth on hits by Josh Thorpe and Henry Laue. With one in, one on, and one out, Trygstad hit a smash back to the box. The liner hit Gaworski in the back on his follow-through and caromed to the area vacated by second baseman Eze Encarnacion. By the time he retrieved it Trygstad was on second with a double and Gaworski was on the grass. He drew applause from the crowd as he remained on the mound.
The Millers tacked on one more in the seventh. With two out, Ryan Poppitz walked, stole second, and scored on a single to left by Eric Fasnacht.
The Millers are set to face the St. Paul Capitals on Sunday morning. The Capitals were shut out by the unbeaten Minneapolis Cobras. The Capitals-Millers winner will need to beat the Cobras twice to claim the Class A title.