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July 26, 2021

6/18/2021 12:19:00 PM
Top-seeded Wildcats can't solve Grand Rapids in sections

Chisago Lakes 2, North Branch 1
Chisago Lakes’ Hunter Kral grounded a ball through a drawn-in North Branch Viking infield to score Nick Wasko from third base and give the Wildcats a 2-1 win over the Vikings in a Section 7AAA elimination game Tuesday, June 8 at St. Francis.  Nathan Zingerman started and went six innings for the Wildcats.  He allowed one earned run on five hits, walked one and struck out seven.  Reed Marquardt pitched a scoreless seventh to pick up the win.  He allowed a hit and a walk but struck out three batters.  Devon Schulte started and went two innings for the Vikings.  He allowed one earned run on three hits, walked none and struck out one.  Bryce Skiba pitched four-plus innings of solid relief for the Vikings.  He allowed one run on three hits, walked two and struck out five.  The win sent the Wildcats to the section championship game against Grand Rapids the next day, and the loss ended the season for the Vikings.

Wildcat Adam Brown led off the bottom of the second with a sinking liner to right.  Viking Adam Richards made a nice diving catch to rob Adam Brown of a hit.  Collin Hackl lined a single to right.  Schulte’s pickoff attempt sailed past first baseman Redd Jacobsen and Hackl moved up to second.  On a 3-2 pitch, Wasko hit a high fly ball to deep left center.  The ball hit the 347 sign.  Hackl had to hold up to make sure the ball didn’t get caught, so he ended up at third while Wasko scampered into second with a double.  Jackson Smith came in as a courtesy runner for Wasko.With Reed Marquardt at the plate, Hackl took off for home on an apparent suicide squeeze.  But Marquardt failed to offer at the pitch, leaving Hackl in no-man’s land.  Somehow, Hackl scrambled back to third safely.  On a 3-1 count, the Wildcats surprised the Vikings by trying it again.  This time, as Hackl took off, Marquardt laid a perfect bunt down the first base line.  Hackl scored easily and Marquardt beat a late throw to first as the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead.  With Hunter Kral at the plate, Smith was caught too far off third and run down by catcher Gavyn Jensen Schneider for the second out.  Marquardt moved up to second.  Kral was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, but Schulte struck out Storm Opdahl to end the inning.

In the bottom of the third, Zingerman walked and stole second.  Mitch Torgerson came in as a courtesy runner for Zingerman.  Ryan Sanvik walked to put runners on first and second.  Augie Brown struck out for the first out of the inning.  Adam Brown followed with a fly ball to deep center field.  For some reason, Torgerson took off from second.  At the time center fielder Sam Robillard caught the ball, Torgerson was standing on third.  The Vikings easily doubled up Torgerson at second, ending a potential Wildcat rally.  In the top of the fourth, Jacobsen lined a one-out single to center.  Robillard bunted the ball towards the mound.  Zingerman fielded the ball, whirled and fired to second. Jacobsen should have beaten the throw, but he slowed up as he failed to slide and was out by an eyelash.  A Zingerman pickoff throw sailed past first baseman Augie Brown, and Robillard moved up to second.  But Zingerman struck out Cole Palmer to end the inning and keep the score at 1-0.

In the top of the fifth, Nathan Skiba led off with a foul popup to the right of home plate.  Wasko located the ball, raced, and dove full out to make the catch.  Axberg drilled a ball into the left field corner for an easy standup double.  On the next pitch, Andrew Orf hammered a ball into the same spot for a double, scoring Axberg to tie the game at 1-1.  Bryce Skiba lined out for the second out.  Jensen Schneider grounded to third, but Marquardt booted the ball to put runners on first and third.  Zingerman struck out Richards to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Adam Brown bounced a one-out single up the middle.  He tried to steal second but was gunned down on a perfect throw by Jensen Schneider.  Bryce Skiba struck out Hackl on a nice curve ball over the indie corner, and the score remained tied.  Marquardt relieved Zingerman to start the top of the seventh.  Nathan Skiba lined a single to right.  Axberg struck out looking.  Orth was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out.  But Marquardt struck out Bryce Skiba swinging and then blew a 2-2 fastball past Jensen-Schneider for the third out.  In the bottom of the inning, Wasko led off the inning with a line drive to right center.  Running hard, he barely beat the throw to second for a leadoff double.  Orf came in to relieve Skiba.  Marquardt reached on a beautiful bunt single, moving Wasko to third.  Kral followed with the game-winner.

After the game, a humble Zingerman agree that it was probably the best game he ever pitched.  Zingerman seemed a bit nervous early in the game, but quickly settled down.  After giving up back-to-back doubles in the fifth, he wasn’t rattled.  He said, “You just gotta keep going.”  Wildcat head coach Jay Brown said “I was thinking he was a little ticked off that he hadn’t pitched in sections yet after the season he had.  He came out and pitched like he was a little ticked off, and I’m okay with that.  I like him on the mound because nothing rattles him.  I think he’s walked about four guys this season, so I knew that wasn’t going to be an issue.  When you limit walks, you give yourself a chance.”

Grand Rapids 6, Chisago Lakes 0
In the first of two possible Section 7AAA championship games, the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks scored twice in the first and added for more in the fourth while holding the Wildcats to just three hits.  It all added up to a 6-0 shutout loss for the Wildcats, ending their season.  The win sent the Thunderhawks to this week’s state tournament.  The game was played Wednesday, June 9 at Wade Stadium in Duluth.

Reed Marquardt started and went three and a third innings.  He allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits, didn’t walk anyone and struck out two.  Augie Brown pitched three and two thirds inning in relief.  He allowed no runs on two hits, walked one and struck out two.

The Grand Rapids leadoff batter reached on an error in the top of the first inning.  The next batter doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third.  The next batter doubled to right center to score both runners.  In the top of the fourth, the first batter doubled into the left field corner.  Before he threw a pitch to the next batter, Marquardt whirled and threw to second on a pickoff attempt.  The ball sailed into center field and the runner moved to third.  A line drive single up the middle scored the runner.  On a steal attempt, Wasko’s throw sailed into center field.  Zingerman threw the ball past third into the Wildcat dugout, and the run scored to make it 4-0.  Marquardt hit the next batter with a pitch but picked him off first for the first out.  A single and a double put runners on second and third.  A run scored on a wild pitch, with the other runner moving to third.

When the next play happened, you could tell it just wasn’t the Wildcats’ day.  On a 2-2 count, the runner took off on a suicide squeeze attempt.  The batter must have missed the sign, because he didn’t offer at the inside pitch.  Wasko dropped the ball.  When he picked it up, he tried to go around the left of the batter to tag the oncoming runner, but the runner raced past him with the sixth and final run of the game.  Three innings later, the Wildcat season was over.

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