By PATRICK SLACK
Top-ranked Little Falls passed its first test of the postseason in resounding fashion, Friday, blanking Milaca 7-0 on a no-hitter thrown by junior Gabe Ploof.
The only thing standing in the way of Ploof and a perfect game was a third-inning walk on a borderline 3-2 delivery.
Ploof also brought in Little Falls’ second run of the game on a two-strike squeeze bunt in the second inning after a throwing error allowed the first run to score.
Despite the dearth of offense, Milaca kept the game close until the fifth, when a one-out error opened the door to a big inning.
Juniors Collin Eckman and Spencer Fenske and senior Michael Holthaus delivered RBI singles before senior Matt Valentine put the exclamation mark on the inning with a two-run double.
Ploof had four multi-strikeout innings, including the sixth when he fanned the side.
Eleven of his final 17 outs were recorded with strikeouts.
Little Falls advances to take on fifth-seeded Albany, which defeated Pierz 8-1, in Tuesday’s Sub-Section 6AA East semifinals at 7:30 p.m. at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.
Milaca 0 0 1
Flyers 7 8 1
Little Falls—Matt Valentine: 2-3, 2B, 2-RBI, R; Joey Hanowski: 1-3, 2B, R; Spencer Fenske: 1-3, RBI, R; Collin Eckman: 1-4, RBI, R; Matt Stumpf: 1-2, R; Mitch Gregory: 1-3, R; Tony Arnold: 1-3; WP-Gabe Ploof: 7-IP, 0-R, 0-H, 1-BB, 11-K.