New Prague senior Nolan Eischens doesn't mind the bat or ball in his hands.
Eischens came on in relief to get the final four outs after driving in three runs, preserving the Trojans' first baseball state championship with a 5-3 victory over Mahtomedi in the Class 3A finals Friday at CHS Field. The Trojans (24-3), ranked fourth by the coaches association, finished second and third in their previous two state tournament appearances.
"There was a ton of pressure out there," Eischens said. "I thrive on pressure. I loved it."
Eischens came on in relief of lefthander Nick Giesen following Jacob Johnson's two-out, two-run double in the sixth inning pulled the Zephyrs within 5-3. It was the senior's second hit of the day. Eischens didn't give up a hit while recording the final four outs.
"Nolan is a pretty good all-around player, whether it's at the plate or on the mound," New Prague coach Tanner Oakes said.
Eischens ripped a two-run single with the bases loaded in the Trojans' three-run fifth and doubled in the first run in the opening frame.
"I was trying to do as much as I could to help us win," Eischens said.
New Prague cleanup hitter Jake Lundquist added a run-scoring single with his second hit of the game in the fifth. Winning pitcher Giesen broke a 1-1 deadlock in the fourth when he was issued a bases-loaded walk. He gave up eight hits while striking out five and walking one.
"We took it one game at a time and kept setting new goals as the season went on," Lundquist said. "It's too many to count now."
Mahtomedi scored its first run on Carter Schmidtz's two-out, opposite-field single in the second. The Zephyrs (19-7) were seeking their third state championship, winning the title in 2018 and 2021.
"I came into a pretty good situation," said Oakes, who is in his fifth season at the helm of the New Prague program. "This is as big as it gets."