NEW ULM - For most, beating the No. 1-ranked team in the state might have elicited an exuberant celebration at the tune of the final out.
But for No. 3 New Ulm Cathedral, beating No. 1 BOLD in a 6-4 nonconference baseball game on Saturday at Johnson Park was nothing more than the oft-cliched "business as usual."
"As far as the rankings go, it is but it isn't," said Cathedral coach Bob Weier of how big the win was for his team. "What we're looking at is playing good ball teams and to give our kids experience. Every team we play has a little bit different personality and this team is an awfully good, athletic team - they can hit the ball well. But I thought we played fairly well."
The Warriors (8-2, 7-1 West Central) struck first with a two-out triple by Logan Sandgren off the center-field wall in the top of the first inning that drove in Lane Stadther (hit by pitch) and Trevord Nissen (walked).
The early 2-0 hole did not faze the Greyhounds (10-2, 9-2 Tomahawk), who were led off with a triple by Gabe Knowles. He was then driven in by Nate Palmer on a sacrifice 2-3 putout from bunt-esque contact with the ball that barely escaped the batter's box.
"It was good to get the runs back right away," said Cathedral senior Russ Hoffman, who started the game at first base before taking the mound in the sixth.
After Collin Helget notched a single from the No. 3 slot and advanced to second on a failed double play attempt during the next at-bat, Brandon Beranek launched a three-run shot over the left fielder's head that landed underneath the scoreboard to give the Greyhounds a 4-2 lead.
"It certainly gave us a lot of confidence ... when you can score early in a ballgame and put the pressure on the other team - if they do certain things, maybe it takes certain things out of their offense," Weier said. "But it is nice."
The lead provided a cushion for sophomore Michael Skillings, who got the win in his first extended outing on the mound of the season. He gave up four runs - three earned - on five hits in five innings of work.
"You've got to get the rustiness out, you've got to get comfortable and I thought, after the first inning, he pitched very well," Weier said. "He got into some trouble in one of the innings - they could have scored a bunch of runs in that one inning - and he pitched out of it. And our defense came up with some nice plays."
After BOLD knocked on the door with one run in the top of the fourth, Hoffman drove in Palmer with a bases-loaded sacrifice 4-3 groundout to regain the two-run cushion for Cathedral.
BOLD again pulled to within one run at 5-4, but Skillings came home in the bottom of the sixth served as the final score of the game.
Palmer got the save, spurring a three-up-three-down top of the seventh inning after Hoffman came in in the sixth and left one on from a walk with one strikeout.
Nissen got the loss for the Warriors, having given up six runs - three earned - on nine hits with five walks and five runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched.
For Cathedral, Beranek finished 2-for-3 with one walk and one strikeout after his three-run homer in the first. Knowles was 2-for-4, while Helget finished 2-for-2.
Cathedral and BOLD both play in the North Subsection of Section 2A, where they - along with No. 5 Sleepy Eye St. Mary's - will be the teams to beat in jostling for a coveted state berth.
"Staying in the run for the playoffs, we're trying to stay on top," Hoffman said. "It's a big win - every win matters now."
Cathedral has now won three straight since its 11-4 loss to St. Mary's last Tuesday. BOLD has now lost two straight.
BOLD 200 110 0 - 4 5 2
NUC 400 101 x - 6 9 2
Nissen, Sandgren (6) and Athmann; Skillings, Hoffman (6), Palmer (7) and Schwartz.
W - Skillings (C) 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
L - Nissen (B) 5 2/3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K
Sv - Palmer (C) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Leading hitters - BOLD: Athmann 1-4 1 R, Nissen 1-3 1 RBI 1 R 1 BB 2B, Sandgren 1-3 2 RBI 3B, Steffel 1-3 1 R; NUC: Knowles 2-4 1 R 3B, Palmer 1-3 1 RBI 1 R 1 BB, Helget 2-2 1 R 1 BB 1 HBP, Skillings 1-4 2 R 1 K, Beranek 2-3 3 RBI 1 R 1 BB 1 K HR.