After the Panthers rallied to make it a 2-2 game after two, Vaske pitched a no-hitter from the third inning on, retiring 15 straight in a three hitter. The senior struck out 12 and walked none in the win. Bishop Garrigan would learn later in the night that they received the #1 seed in the State Field in Des Moines.
"Those final few innings, once they got the lead back, you kind of knew with the ball in his hands, he wasn't going to let them lose," said St. Mary's head coach Ryan Berg. "He's a great pitcher and we definitely tip our hat to him. They definitely deserve to win the ball game. Garrigan is obviously and outstanding team as is evident in receiving the #1 seed at the state tournament. I was proud of how are guys battled back after getting down two runs in the first."
The Golden Bears wasted no time getting started as leadoff hitter Reece Wadle singled his way on, Vaske followed with a single, and Zach Keith walked his way aboard to load them up with no outs. Alex Boisjolie then laced a single to right for a quick 2-0 Garrigan lead. St. Mary's starter Bobby Ivey then found his footing, striking out John Burns and Andrew McGuire. Boisjolie was also thrown out at second on the McGuire strikeout to get out of the jam with limited damage.
The Panthers would answer in the first as Luke Lenhart had a leadoff single and advanced to second after a Dillan Smith strikeout and Tyler Munden fielder's choice. Joe Sandhoff then came through with an RBI single to deep right to draw with one. The Panthers would do no more damage in the inning, however.
Ivey retired the first two batters in the second, before a walking Grant Redding aboard. The Panthers looked to be out of the inning as Wadle grounded into the infield, but the throw eluded Sandhoff at first, and the Bears and runners at second and third. Ivey calmly fanned Vaske to escape the jam unharmed.
After Kennedy Drey grounded out to open the second, Austin Demers reached courtesy of an error. Ryan Peters bunted him over and reached first on a late throw. An overthrow attempted to nail Demers at second sailed wide, and both runners advanced into scoring position. Jacob Kottke came through with an RBI groundout to level the score at two apiece after two.
Both Ivey and Vaske had little trouble in a scoreless third, sending the tie to the fourth.
After Ivey retired the first two in the fourth, Garrigan found life as Andrew Miller legged out an infield single as Demers and Sandhoff both went for the ball and Sandhoff making his way back to the bag late. Miller quickly found his way home as Reding belted a two-run shot out to left for a 4-2 lead the Bears would not relinquish.
"That's just one of those tough plays," said Berg. "We definitely want Joe going after the ball. Usually he gets that and the pitcher covers first. It was just one of those tough plays. That's something that's hard to be 100% prepared for. It was one of those little things that didn't bounce our way."
Garrigan would add one in the sixth courtesy of a pair of walks and an errant throw on a pickoff attempt at third and one in the seventh on a Jake Kollasch sac fly.
The Golden Bears totaled seven hits in the contest, led by two apiece from Wadle and Boisjolie, who scored two and drove in two. Garrigan (36-8) opens State Tournament play Monday at 2PM against North Tama (21-12). The winner meets either Martensdale St. Mary's (37-5) or Treynor (30-4).
Ivey took the loss for the Panthers as he went 6 and 1/3rd. He walked seven and struck out seven. Sandhoff converted the last two outs for St. Mary's.
Lenhart was 2-for-3 to lead the Panther bats and scored a run. Sandhoff was 1-for-3 with the RBI double, and Kottke added the second RBI.
The Twin Lakes Conference and District champion Panthers wrap up the year with a record of 19-9 overall.
Seniors partaking in their last Summer on the diamond for St. Mary's were: Ivey, Demers, Munden, Kottke and Andy Drey.
"They are a bunch of guys in that love the game of baseball," said Berg. "Most of them battled for me for all five years. They definitely stepped it up this season in their final year. No way we would have gotten to this point without them. Also, just want to say thanks to the fans that supported us. We had great crowds all postseason."