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July 18, 2019

6/14/2019 11:31:00 AM
Wildcats knocked out after extended section baseball run

Chisago Lakes 13, Hermantown 8
The Wildcats used two big innings – five runs in the first and seven runs in the sixth – to beat the Hermantown Hawks 13-8 and stave off elimination in the Section7AAA double-elimination playoffs last Wednesday, June 5 at Princeton.  The win knocked the Hawks out of the playoffs and sent the Wildcats to another elimination game immediately afterward against the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks.

The Wildcats spotted Hermantown two runs in the top of the first.  In the bottom of the inning, Logan Bjorkman walked with one out and scored on a double to left by Dylan Tashjian.  Connor Bleymeyer and Mason Molde walked to load the bases.  Dresel hit a hard ground ball to center for a single.  Tashjian and Bleymeyer scored and courtesy runner Braden Wilkinson advanced to third, giving the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.  After Zach Mueller struck out, Jacob Vangstad surprised everyone with a two-out bunt.  The pitcher pounced on it and fired to first.  The throw sailed past the first baseman and down the right field line.  Wilkinson and Dresel scored.  Vangstad tried to go all the way to third but was thrown out.  The damage had been done, though, and the Wildcats led 5-2 after one.

The Wildcats added another run in the bottom of the fourth.  Ryan Sanvik doubled to lead off the inning.  Bjorkman singled to left to score courtesy runner Seth Thompson and the Wildcats now led 6-2.  But Hermantown tied things up in the top of the fifth on a walk, four singles and an error.  With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the sixth, Hermantown’s Reese Fish singled up the middle.  One run scored, but center fielder Bjorkman gunned down Nolan Ruprecht at the plate for the second out of the inning.  Nate Wasko struck out Thomas Borash looking to end the inning and the Wildcats trailed 7-6.

In the bottom of the sixth, Sanvik and Bjorkman walked, and Dylan Tashjian was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.  Bleymeyer walked on four pitches to force in a run and tie the game at 7-7.  Molde lined a single to right to drive in two runs.  Dresel, Mueller and Vangstad followed with singles to right, each driving in a run to make the score 12-7.  Wildcat head coach Jay Brown said “It’s good to see the guys hitting the other way rather than trying to pull the ball all the time.  They just sat back and let the ball travel and it worked out well.”

After Augie Brown struck out for the first out of the inning, Sanvik singled to left to drive in one more run and make it 13-7.  The Hawks added a run in the top of the seventh to make the final score 13-8 in favor of the Wildcats.

Brown started and went 4 1/3 innings.  He allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits, walked two and struck out four.  “Augie pitched well,” said Jay Brown.  “As a tenth grader, he stepped up and became one of our top two pitchers in the last three weeks of the season.  Because the games were delayed for a day due to rain, we had a chance to go back to Ethan Prokosch for this game.  But we stuck with Brownie and it worked out for us.”  Nathan Wasko picked up the win in relief.  In 1 2/3 innings, he allowed two earned runs on five hits, walked on and struck out one.  Wasko walked the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh.  Sanvik came in and allowed a single and the Hawks ended up scoring a run on a sacrifice fly.  But with two outs, Sanvik struck out Ruprecht on three straight pitches to end the game.  The Wildcats were on their way to the next round.
Grand Rapids 4, Chisago Lakes 1
The Grand Rapids Thunderhawks broke open a close game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth and went on to beat the Wildcats 4-1 in an elimination game in the Section 7AAA playoffs last Wednesday, June 5 at Princeton.  The loss knocked the Wildcats out of the playoffs and sent the Thunderhawks to a Thursday night showdown with Duluth Denfeld for the section championship.  “We had scoring chances in the first four innings’” said Wildcat head coach Jay Brown.  “But we didn’t come up with the big hits we needed.”

In the top of the first, the Wildcats put runners on first and second with two outs, but Mason Molde grounded out to end the inning.  In the top of the second, Owen Dresel and Mitch Hasselquist singled to put runners on first and second with not outs.  But as failed bunt attempt and three straight strikeouts ended that threat.  With two outs in the top of the third, Dylan Tashjian walked and Molde singled.  But Dresel grounded out to end the inning.  In the fourth, with Tommy Dubbs on third and two outs, Ryan Sanvik hit a screaming line drive – unfortunately, it was right at third baseman Wyatt Zuehlke and he caught it for the out.
The Thunderhawks manufactured a run in the bottom of the first.  An error, a sacrifice bunt, a single and a suicide squeeze pushed across the first run of the game.  With Grand Rapids still leading 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, starting pitcher Ethan Prokosch hit one batter and walked another with one out.  He was relieved by Connor Bleymeyer, who promptly struck out Owen Linder for the second out of the inning.  The runners moved up on a wild pitch and a stolen base.  Gideon Beck scored on a wild pitch and Bleymeyer hit Collin Dibb, who promptly stole second base.  Zuehlke and Beau Winkler singled to drive in a run each and the Thunderhawks led 4-0.

The Wildcats had a chance for a big inning in the top of the seventh.  Mitch Hasselquist singled with one out and Augie Brown singled with two outs.  Ryan Sanvik was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Bjorkman ripped a line drive to left, scoring one run and keeping the bases loaded.  But Tashjian flew out to center to end the game.

Jay Brown said “In the second, with runners on first and second, we didn’t execute the sacrifice bunt.  But they executed to move a guy over after we made an error that came back to bite us when they scored a run later that inning.   Ethan threw well enough to win.  We just needed a break or a big hit to help him out.  In the seventh, they had the bases loaded with Bjorkman up.  I was surprised that they didn’t intentionally walk him, even with the bases loaded, knowing his potential for doing damage at the plate.  He hit a single so hard we were only able to score one run on the play, so Grand Rapids lucked out.

“The end result was frustrating, but the improvements we made from the way we played at the beginning of the season to the way we played in our last ten games was impressive.  The boys came through and played their best ball of the season.  And even though we are losing five seniors, including two key players, we’ve got some pretty good players coming back.  Hopefully, things are looking good for the next couple of years.”

In 4 1/3 innings, Prokosch allowed three runs (two earned) on just three hits, walked two and struck out one.  In 1 2/3 innings, Bleymeyer allowed one earned run on three hits, walked one and struck out two.

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