DES MOINES - Opportunities to dethrone a two-time defending state champion on the ultimate stage don't come around often.
Fourth-ranked Bishop Garrigan will look to make the most of that rare chance here tonight.
Winners of seven straight and 23 of their past 25 games, the top-seeded Golden Bears (37-8 overall) will clash with No. 4 seed Martensdale St. Mary's (38-5) in a Class 1A state baseball semifinal.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Principal Park, home of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
In the quarterfinals, North Central Conference champion Garrigan posted a 3-1 triumph over No. 8 seed North Tama. Senior ace right-hander Austin Vaske fired a complete game three-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Offensively, the Golden Bears received a clutch two-run single from junior Jake Kollasch, while classmate John Burns delivered two hits, a run scored and a stolen base.
Vaske (11-1) could potentially receive the starting assignment on the mound again this evening for Garrigan. The Iowa Central recruit has compiled a miniscule 1.09 ERA, while allowing just 61 hits - with 116 strikeouts - in 83 1/3 innings of work.
This summers's state appearance marks only the second in school history for the Golden Bears, who previously settled for 2A runner-up honors in 1999.
Martensdale St. Mary's, which saw its nation's second longest-ever win streak snapped at 88 games earlier this season, downed fifth-seeded Treynor by an 8-2 count in their state opener. The third-ranked Blue Devils have prevailed in 18 consecutive contests and 26 of their last 27 outings. MSM, which captured the Pride of Iowa Conference crown with a 15-1 mark, paces the 1A field in runs (466), hits (425), doubles (100), triples (24), RBI (363), slugging percentage (.610) and team batting average (.390).
Sophomore Eddy Kraber (9-0; 52 2/3 IP, 32 H, 64 K, 1.33 ERA) or senior Zeb Noel (5-0; 37 1/3 IP, 28 H, 50 K, 2.81 ERA) will likely take the hill for the Blue Devils.
The winner between Garrigan and Martensdale St. Mary's advances to face either No. 2 seed and top-ranked Mason City Newman (34-4) or sixth-seeded and No. 6-rated Lisbon (35-7) in the 1A title round Saturday at 2 p.m.