8/1/2019 4:05:00 PM Bulldogs season ends with back-to-back shutouts in playoffs
North Branch 3, Chisago Lakes 0 Last season, the Chisago Lakes Bulldogs has a rough regular season, but caught fire in the playoffs and came within one game of making it to the state tournament. This summer, they also had a rough regular season (5-14). But North Branch Nighthawk pitcher Jimmy Skroch put out the fire before it could even get started by throwing a no-hitter to lead the Nighthawks to a 3-0 win over the Bulldogs in the opening game of the 2019 Eastern Minny League South playoffs last Thursday, July 25. Even though the Nighthawks were the home team because they were higher seeded, the game was played at Chisago Lakes since it was a night game and the North Branch field doesn’t have lights.
The win guaranteed the Nighthawks a spot in the Region 1C playoffs that start this weekend. The loss sent the Bulldogs to the loser’s bracket, where they would need to win two games to make it to the Region 1C playoffs.
Skroch, who is 6-1 on the season with a minuscule 0.63 era, struck out 15 Bulldogs and walked three. Three Bulldogs reached first base on errors. The closest the Bulldogs came to a hit was Hunter Lindstrom’s ground ball to first base in the fifth inning. The Nighthawk first baseman made a nice play just to knock it down but should have gotten the out. The official scorer ruled it an error.
Nighthawk Brady Brodin led off the bottom of the third with looping triple down the right field line and into the corner. Clint Mattson followed with a grounder to third that was booted, allowing Brodin to score to give the Nighthawks a 1-0 lead. Mattson went all the way to second on the play. Dillyn Negley followed with a fly ball to right that was deep enough to allow Mattson to move up to third. Nick Pilz hit a grounder to short. Mattson took off to try to score from third, but Bulldog shortstop Dusty Rhodes fired a strike to catcher Nick Wasko, who tagged a sliding Mattson for the second out.
The Nighthawks added two more runs in the seventh to give themselves a little breathing room. Skroch led off with an infield hit to deep short. One out later, he scored on a triple to right center by Jackson Leleux. Brodin bounced a single up the middle to score Leleux, and the Nighthawks led 3-0. Skroch faced the minimum in the final two innings as he finished off his gem.
Bulldog starter Tyler Stilp pitched his best game of the season. In seven innings, he allowed three runs (two earned) on eight mostly scattered hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Lindstrom pitched the eighth, striking out two.
East Bethel 9, Chisago Lakes 0 The Bulldogs’ season ended last Saturday, July 27, in the second round of the Eastern Minny League South playoffs. Shoddy defense early and a lack of clutch hitting sent the Bulldogs down to a 9-0 loss at the hands of the East Bethel Bandits. The win sent the Bandits to the championship game of the loser’s bracket against the Rum River Bandits. East Bethel won 11-4 to advance to the Region 1C playoffs this weekend at Hinckley.
Hunter Lindstrom pitched well for the first six innings. Only one of the four runs scored in the first six innings was earned. He allowed just three hits, hit two, walked one and struck out two. Lindstrom tired in the final two innings, allowing the final five runs.
Bulldog batters were 0-4 with runners in scoring position, and all of those opportunities came in the first six innings when the game was still close. The Bulldogs had a respectable .280 batting average over the course of the season but struggled to drive in runners.