ALGONA - At times this season, it seemed like Bishop Garrigan toiled in relative anonymity.
The Golden Bears, though, had to enter Tuesday's Class 1A substate final against Storm Lake St. Mary's with a measure of confidence.
Not only was Bishop Garrigan riding high from a North Central Conference title, but the Golden Bears were facing a St. Mary's team that they had thumped 11-0 on June 28.
The confidence was well-founded as Bishop Garrigan overcame a shaky start and downed the Panthers 7-2 to earn the top seed in the Class 1A state tournament.
"This feels good to prove to people that we could do it," Garrigan senior pitcher Austin Vaske said.
Vaske proved to be one of the major differences in the contest as he overcame a rough start to completely shut down the Panthers over the final five innings.
BISHOP GARRIGAN 7, STORM LAKE ST. MARY'S 2
Garrigan 200 201 2 - 7 7 3
St. Mary's 110 000 0 - 2 3 2
Austin Vaske (12K, 0BB) and Alex Boisjolie; Bobby Ivey (7K, 7BB), Joe Sandhoff (7) (0K, 0BB) and Kennedy Drey. W - Vaske. L - Ivey. HR - Grant Reding (BG). 2B - Reece Wadle (BG), Sandhoff. Multiple hits - Wadle 2, Boisjolie 2, Luke Lenhart (SM) 2. Multiple RBI - Boisjolie 2, Reding 2.
After allowing two runs on three hits over the first couple of innings, Vaske got out of a jam in the second inning by picking off Luke Lenhart from first base to end the inning.
Vaske then retired the final 15 batters of the game.
Vaske was a model of efficiency as he needed just 91 pitches to strike out 12 batters while walking none.
The Golden Bears uncharacteristically committed three errors in the second inning before Vaske's pitching settled them down.
Grant Reding, the ninth batter in the Garrigan lineup, came up with the key hit as the senior outfielder ripped an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence in the fourth inning for a two-run homer that broke a 2-2 tie.
"I was just hoping to put it in play," Reding said. "But he threw me an 0-2 fastball down the middle of the plate."
The Panther pitching faded down the stretch, and Garrigan batters were able to use draw seven walks to help pad the margin.
Reece Wadle added a double and single while Alex Boisjolie had a pair of singles and two runs batted in.
"You can't say enough about this team and the seniors," Garrigan coach Gene Meister said. "You've had to watch them develop and grow."
Bishop Garrigan (36-8) earned the top seed in Monday's quarterfinal at Principal Park in Des Moines.
The Golden Bears will face North Tama (21-12) after the Redhawks downed BGM 7-2 on Tuesday.