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Senior Babe Ruth qualifies for state

First baseman Reese Richards snags a line drive and dives back to first base to double off a baserunner early in Thursday's 7-4 loss in Burnsville. Rosemount beat Woodbury 9-3 on Friday to qualify for state.

It's rare that a team finds out it has qualified for state in the middle of a game where it's being 10-runned, but that's what happened to the Rosemount Senior Babe Ruth baseball team Saturday afternoon.

Rosemount was in the middle of bowing out to Eagan 10-0 when it received the good news that the East Division would send three of its four tournament teams to this week's Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament in Apple Valley. Undefeated division champion Eastview was given an automatic state bid by virtue of being the host, leaving two qualifying bids up for grabs among the three remaining teams in action last weekend at Alimagnet Park in Burnsville. Rosemount opened the tournament with a 7-4 loss to Woodbury Thursday night, but unknowingly earned the second state tournament bid when it knocked out Woodbury with a 9-3 victory Friday night.

"The tournament director came over and told us we were going to state," Rosemount assistant coach Jordan Wilhelmi said. "Two more teams got to advance and we knocked (Woodbury) out, so that left us."

Rosemount (9-7) earned a first-round matchup with West Division champion Minnetonka (10-0) in Wednesday's Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament at Legion Field in Apple Valley.

"Realistically, the teams at state don't know anything about each other. We just want to show up and show we belong there," Wilhelmi said. "Pitching is going to be a big factor. Mitch Olson and Jake Schulze are going to have to carry us. Hopefully we can jump on them early and build some confidence for the later innings."

It was Olson that carried Rosemount on the mound in Friday's state-qualifying win over Woodbury. He allowed two runs on one hit in the first inning, then allowed just one more hit over the next six frames in a complete-game victory.

"Mitch pitched a great game," Wilhelmi said. "After those two early runs he really settled down and threw shutout ball until an error scored a run in the seventh. He's been a workhorse for us all year. He was great at hitting his spots around the plate."

He was backed by what Wilhelmi called the team's "best hitting performance of the year." Rosemount scored in each of the first five innings.

"With our backs up against the wall the guys came through," he said. "I definitely think we came out more focused. We gained a lot of confidence after we were down 2-0 and the hitting was contagious. We got a couple and kept piling them on. This team plays well with a lot of confidence and momentum."

Luke Cassell started the scoring with a two-run single that made the score 2-2 after an inning. Reese Richards then ripped the first of his two triples to start the second and scored the go-ahead run on a Kyle Breitinger base hit. Connor Wolfe followed with an RBI ground out to make it 4-2.

After Olson helped himself with a leadoff double in the third, Richards roped his second straight triple and came around to score the team's sixth run.

Zach Zaboj added a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Wolfe ripped a two-run single in the fifth.

Richards, Breitinger and Wolfe each finished with two of the team's seven hits.

Five errors proved costly in the 7-4 tournament-opening loss Thursday night.

Schulze started on the mound and allowed seven runs while striking out four over seven innings. Errors allowed Woodbury to break a 3-3 tie with four unearned runs against Schulze in the top of the sixth.

Breitinger and Ryan Green had RBI singles for Rosemount in the first. The offense then went silent until Green singled and scored in the fifth.