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July 16, 2018

6/14/2018 4:19:00 PM
Chisago Lakes baseball runs out of gas one win shy of state

Chisago Lakes 8, Cloquet 6
After losing to Grand Rapids on Monday, June 4 in the Section 7AAA playoffs, the Wildcats found themselves on the brink of elimination two days later when they trailed the Cloquet Lumberjacks 6-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning at Wade Stadium in Duluth.  But the Wildcats rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth and five more in the bottom of the sixth to beat the Lumberjacks 8-6 and advance to Championship Day in the playoffs.

The Wildcats were behind the eight-ball from the beginning as the first batter of the game reached on an error.  That runner scored one out later on a triple.  A sacrifice fly drove in the second runner, and a double and a single led to the third unearned run of the inning and gave the Lumberjacks a 3-0 lead.  They added another unearned run in the fourth.  Cloquet added two more runs in the top of the fifth before reliever Nolan Silver came in with one out and got the next two batters to hold the score at 6-0.

 Joey Ferris walked with one out in the bottom of the fifth.  David Kimlinger doubled to center, moving Ferris to third.  Connor Wilke, Mitch Barrett and Dylan Tashjian each lined a run-scoring single to center, and the Wildcats trailed 6-3.  Silver allowed a harmless double in the top of the sixth.  Cole Brophy walked to lead off the bottom of the inning.  Henry Trost followed with a walk and Ferris was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.  Kimlinger hit a fly ball to center that was dropped, allowing one run to score to cut the lead to 6-4 and leaving the bases loaded.  Wilke singled to center to drive in one more run and cut the lead to 6-5.  Barrett bunted to drive in Ferris and the game was tied at 6-6, with the bases still loaded.  One out later, Adam Hanson walked on a 3-2 pitch to score Kimlinger and gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead.  Logan Bjorkman squeezed in another run and the Wildcats led 8-6.  In the bottom of the inning, Henry Trost came in to close.  After a one-out single, Trost got the next two batters on a ground out and a line out to pick up the save and send the Wildcats to a Championship Day matchup with the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks.  Since the Thunderhawks were undefeated in the section tournament, the Wildcats would need to beat them twice to advance to the state tournament.    

 Brophy started for the Wildcats.  He allowed six runs and seven hits, walked none and struck out four in four and a third innings.  But only two of the six runs against Brophy were earned, as each of the three Wildcat errors in the game led to one or more runs for the Lumberjacks.  Silver picked up the win with one and two-thirds innings of one-hit relief.  Wildcat head coach Jay Brown said “I wasn’t too impressed with how we came out at the beginning of this one.  But we fought back like we have all year.  We played the late innings pretty well and had a very exciting comeback.”
Chisago Lakes 5, Grand Rapids 4
In the first game against Grand Rapids at Wade Stadium the next day, Mitch Barrett’s two-run single in the third inning put the Wildcats up 4-3 and they went on to beat the Thunderhawks 5-4.  Ryan Sandvik came in to relieve in the top of the second with one out and the Wildcats trailing 2-1.  Sandvik allowed a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-1, but struck out the next batter to end the Grand Rapids rally.  He ended up pitching four and a third innings to pick up the win, allowing one run on six hits.  He walked none and struck out two.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Dylan Tashjian walked with the bases loaded to tie the game at 1-1.  With the Wildcats trailing 3-1 going into the bottom of the third, Joey Ferris singled with one out and stole second.  He advanced to third on a single by David Kimlinger.  With Connor Wilke at the plate, Ferris scored on a wild pitch and Kimlinger came all the way around to third.  Wilke walked and stole second.  Barrett then singled to center to drive in both runners and the Wildcats led 4-3.  In the bottom of the fifth, the speedy Ferris reached on an error, stole second and later came around to score to give the Wildcats a 5-3 lead.  And they needed the cushion.  In the top of the seventh, Grand Rapids loaded the bases with three singles.  With one out, the next Grand Rapids hitter grounded out to drive in a run and cut the Wildcat lead to 5-4.  But the next batter grounded out to third baseman Barrett to give the Wildcats a 5-4 and, after a 20-minute break, send them up against Grand Rapids again for the chance to go to the state tournament.
Wildcat head coach Jay Brown said “We came out for this one a little more relaxed than we had the night before.  There was really no pressure.  We decided ‘let’s just go out and have some fun.’  And we played pretty well.”
Grand Rapids 11, Chisago Lakes 5
Unfortunately, the Wildcats dug an early hole for themselves in the championship game that was too deep to climb out of.  Grand Rapids scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning and went on to beat the Wildcats 11-5.  The win sent the Thunderhawks to the state tournament and ended the Wildcats’ season.
Wildness led to the big second inning for Grand Rapids, and the Wildcats even turned a double play in the inning.  Four walks, a hit batter, three singles and a double added up to seven runs.  They added three more in the third to go up 10-1.  The Wildcats made some noise in the top of the fourth.  A run-scoring single by Logan Bjorkman, a sacrifice fly by Henry Trost and a two-out, two-run single to left by David Kimlinger cut the Thunderhawk lead to 10-5.  But Connor Wilke grounded out to end the inning.  Grand Rapids later added another run to make the final score 11-5.
Wildcat head coach Jay Brown said “It’s not hard to figure out what happened in this one.  We walked eleven and hit a batter, and Grand Rapids took advantage of all of our wildness.  And it’s too bad we came up short again.  We lost our first three games this year, but came back to win 15.  We went from not competing well at the beginning to having a very good season and I’m proud of these guys.”

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