Eric Pelant found out shortly before Thursday night’s state Class 2A quarterfinal game he was getting the pitching start.
Jeff Fasching wasn’t feeling 100 percent, so St. Cloud Cathedral coach Bob Karn decided the senior left-hander would get the ball instead of the sophomore.
“It was good,” said Pelant, who discovered in the bullpen that his curveball was working really well.
Pelant tossed a four-hitter, going all seven innings, as Cathedral beat Delano 5-0 on a pleasant evening at Dick Putz Field.
“I wasn’t really concerned about it,” junior catcher Bo Schmitz said of Pelant starting. “I know when Eric’s on his game, hitters have a hard time touching him.”
Cathedral (23-5), the defending state champion, plays Proctor (18-6) at 2:30 p.m. today at Dick Putz Field.
Proctor handed Minneapolis Washburn (25-1) its first loss of the season, winning 1-0 in a game that was moved over to Joe Faber Field because morning rain pushed the entire schedule back.
The Proctor-Cathedral winner advances to the state championship at 3 p.m. Monday at Target Field in Minneapolis.
“He (Pelant) pitched well,” Delano head coach Dan Paulson. “I’m not going to take anything away from him tonight.
“They played great and they were great defensively. Their pitcher worked hard and changed speeds well. Coach (Bob) Karn does a great job with those boys.”
In other games Thursday, Holy Family Catholic beat Cannon Falls 8-0 and Fairmont knocked off Roseau 3-2. Holy Family (23-4) and Fairmont (25-3) meet in the other Class 2A semifinal at noon today at Putz.
Karn, in recording his 654th victory in 42 seasons, decided if Fasching wasn’t 100 percent, he wasn’t going to push him. It’s why, he said, he tries to develop a complete pitching staff during the regular season, so everyone’s ready to go when the time comes.
“Jeff has a little bit of a strain in his (back) ribs and he says he’s been getting a little better every day. I told him to tell me honestly how he felt and he said it was still sore.
“If Jeff feels the same way, he won’t pitch (today) either.”
Junior right-hander Brian Minks would be the probable starter, with Michael Ellingson in relief.
That Cathedral is back in the semifinals is because of Pelant and a five-run second inning.
Pelant, who threw a no-hitter this season against Zimmerman, struck out 10, walked none and scattered four hits.
He retired the game’s first 11 batters and threw 78 pitches in the complete game.
Schmitz said he threw 45 percent off-speed pitches.
Pelant said it was the most he had relied on the curveball this season.
Karn said he was proud of Pelant’s efforts in the playoffs, recording a 2-1 win over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and then beating Delano (18-8) after suffering a 6-2 loss to Albany.
“The cliché you hear is that sports develops character,” Karn said. “But sports also reveals character.
“And that’s the way we’re looking at it in Eric’s case. Since that Albany game, he has been outstanding.”
Cathedral’s offense, meanwhile, came all in the second inning. The Crusaders scored five runs, getting RBI singles from Matt Dodge and Minks and a two-run single from Fasching.
Waylon Bemboom had a sacrifice fly.
“What did you call it, Mr. Karn?” Bemboom asked his coach of the inning.
“Dying quails,” Karn said.
“We had a bunch of dying quails,” Bemboom said. “That’s baseball. Some fall in and some don’t.”
They fell in and the pitching and defense was again solid.
“Muck (Delano left-hander Zach Muckenhirn) pitched good, even in that inning, I thought,” Paulson said. “But baseball is sometimes an unforgiving game.”
Michael Kerber and Matt Dodger each had two hits for the Crusaders. Tyler Wolfe, Toby Hanson, Christian Triplett and Eric Berglund had Delano’s hits.
The Tigers play Washburn at 12:30 p.m. today in the consolation bracket at Faber. Cannon Falls meets Roseau at 10 a.m. at Faber.
Cathedral’s aware of what’s next.
“It means we’re one game closer to the championship,” Bemboom said.