Walk-off grand slam lifts Grand Rapids baseball to third straight Section 7AAA title

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Trailing 5-3 entering the eighth inning Wednesday the Grand Rapids baseball team hit a walk-off grand slam from senior Kyle Henke to down Hermantown 7-5 and claim their third straight Section 7AAA title.

Entering the day as the two seed Grand Rapids needed two wins on their own Bob Streetar Field in Grand Rapids to return to state. The Thunderhawks secured a 8-6 victory in game one over the top-seeded Hawks to force the do-or-die game two.


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Then in game two senior designated hitter Henke emerged the hero in extras hitting the game-winning grand slam.

“With two strikes I was just trying to put a good swing on something somewhere close to the plate. I didn’t want to go without looking so when I left my bat, I knew it had a chance. I didn’t think it would get out, but it did,” Henke shared after the game.

“That’s one for the ages, for sure,” head coach Bill Kinnunen said. “We stuck with it, we didn’t quit. We could have easily quit when they scored two in the top of the eighth. They’ve got their ace on the mound who threw it by us five days ago on Thursday, he shut us out. So we stuck with it. We had faith and worked our fundamentals at the plate and finally got some hits.”

Now Grand Rapids advances to their fourth state tournament in five seasons, having also gone in 2018, 2021, and 2022.

The Class AAA state baseball tournament quarterfinals and semifinals are June 13-14 at the Mini Met in Jordan. The championship series is set at CHS Field in St. Paul June 16.