6/6/2019 4:21:00 PM Wildcat boys baseball bows out in section title game to Grand Rapids
Duluth Denfeld 2, CL 0 Playing against the Duluth Denfeld Hunters in the second game of the Section 7AAA playoffs, the Wildcats got an excellent complete-game performance out of starting pitcher Augie Brown. He allowed just two runs – one earned – on four hits, walked one and struck out three. But those two runs were enough for the Hunters, as starting pitcher Nate Johnson shutout the Wildcats 2-0 on four hits, no walks and six strikeouts The game was played Thursday, May 30 at Chisago Lakes High School.
In the top of the first. Denfeld’s lead-off hitter reached on an error. One out later, two successive singles pushed across one run to give the Hunters a 1-0 lead. A 6-4-3 double play ended the inning, averting further damage. In the top of the second, the first batter hit what looked to be a routine grounder to short. But, the ball took a bad hop and skipped past shortstop Ryan Sanvik for a single. The baserunner stole second. The next batter hit a ground ball down the third base line. It got past third baseman Owen Dresel, hit the base and bounced about 50 feet down the left field line. The runner scored all the way from second and made the score 2-0.
With a runner on third and no outs in the top of the fifth, a batter hit a ground ball toward Dresel, and the runner at third froze. The ball hit the tip of Dresel’s glove and rolled behind him. The runner from third took off. Shortstop Sanvik quickly scooped the ball and fired it home.
Catcher Mason Molde was in the right position for Sanvik’s nice throw and tagged the runner on a very close play, keeping the score at 2-0.
The Wildcats had a total of four baserunners in the first four innings but didn’t really threaten to score. With one out in the fifth, Braden Wilkinson hit a grounder to short and beat it out for an infield single. He stole second. One out later, Logan Bjorkman launched a deep fly ball to straightaway center field, that looked like it had a chance to tie the game. The Denfeld center fielder raced back and caught the ball over his shoulder on the warning track for the third out.
The Wildcats went six-up, six-down in the last two innings and the loss sent them to the loser’s bracket for a game against Cloquet’s Lumberjacks.
CL 4, Cloquet 2 Logan Bjorkman nearly hit for the cycle – he homered in the first, doubled in the third and tripled off the top of the wall in the sixth – and scored three runs to lead the Wildcats to a 4-2 win over the Cloquet Lumberjacks, in an elimination game in the Section 7AAA tournament. The loss knocked Cloquet out of the playoffs. The Wildcats got a good performance from starter Ethan Prokosch, who went 4 2/3 innings. Reliever Nathan Wasko got the biggest out of the game when he cam on with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth and got the batter to ground out to third to end the inning. He pitched the final two innings and picked up the save. The game was played at Mark Park in Princeton Saturday, June 1.
With one out in the top of the first, Bjorkman launched a very high fly ball to deep left center field. The ball carried all the way over the fence to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the next inning, a dropped fly ball, a walk and, one out later, a sacrifice bunt, put runners on second and third with two outs. The next batter singled to center to drive in one run. The batter moved up to second when the Wildcats failed to hit the cutoff. The next batter hit a ball to the left side that looked like it would get into left field and score two runs. Third baseman Ryan Sanvik made a great diving stop, got up and nipped the runner at first ending the inning.
Bjorkman doubled to right center to lead off the third inning. Connor Bleymeyer and Dylan Tashjian walked to load the bases. Bjorkman scored on a wild pitch. It looked like the Wildcats had a chance to blow the game open. But a popup, a strikeout and a groundout ended the inning with the Wildcats leading just 2-1. Jake Vangstad singled to lead off the top of the fourth and was sacrificed to second by Augie Brown. Sanvik ripped a double down the third base line that scored Vangstad to make the score 3-1. The Lumberjacks wanted no part of Bjorkman and intentionally walked him.
The strategy paid off, as a groundout and strikeout ended the inning with no more damage.
In the top of the fifth, the lead-off batter reached on an error. The next batter singled to left center, to put runners on first and third. The next batter hit into a 6-4-3 double play, with the run scoring to cut the Wildcat lead to 3-2. Prokosch walked the next three batters and Wasko came in to relieve him. On a 2-2 pitch, the batter grounded out to third, preserving the Wildcats’ slim lead. The Wildcats added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Bjorkman tripled off the very top of the wall in left center with two outs and scored when Tashjian reached on an error.
The Wildcat defense made it exciting in the top of the seventh. Two errors put runners on first and second with one out. But Wasko got the next two runners to fly out harmlessly, sealing the win for the Wildcats. Prokosch picked up the win, allowing two unearned runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out three. Wasko came up with the biggest save so far this year for the Wildcats. In 2 1/3 innings of relief, his line: no runs, no hits, no walks, no strikeouts. The only two runners to reach base got there on errors.
The win sent CL to an elimination game against Hermantown, which they won, but they ran out of steam against Grand Rapids in the section championship game. For a full recap of those games, check out next week's Chisago County Press.