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September 22, 2021

8/13/2021 11:17:00 AM
Bulldogs fall to Bandits, season comes to end

East Bethel 10, Chisago Lakes 5
In the Region 1C play-in game, the East Bethel Bandits broke open a close game with six runs in the seventh inning and went on to beat the Bulldogs 10-5 Thursday, August 5 at Solheim Field in Princeton. The loss ended the season for the Bulldogs and the Bandits moved on to the double-elimination portion of the tournament.

The outcome of the game pivoted on  two defensive plays – one that was made and one that wasn’t. In the bottom of the seventh, the Bandits led 6-2 with the bases loaded and two outs. With reliever Tyler Stilp pitching, the batter hit a slow bouncer between the mound and third. Third baseman Reed Marquardt stayed back on the ball. Shortstop Dusty Rhodes, thinking Marquardt would not have time to throw out the runner at first, cut across, fielded the ball, and made an off-balance throw across his body to first. The throw pulled first baseman Cole Hentges off the bag. A run scored and the bases remained loaded. The next batter singled to left center, driving in all three runners to make it 10-2. A flyout to left ended the nightmare inning. In the top of the eighth, pinch hitter Tommy Fitzer came up with the bases loaded and one out and the Bulldogs trailing 10-3. The lefty drilled the first pitch toward right field, and it looked like it would score at least two runs. But the first baseman made a great stop and stepped on first for the second out. A run scored, but the next batter popped out to end the inning, limiting the damage.

This is not to say the two plays necessarily cost the Bulldogs the game, but the outcome could have been different. Of course, the outcome could have been different in any game. East Bethel deserved to win the game and is still in the hunt for a state tournament spot after beating the North Branch Nighthawks and Jimmy Skroch 1-0 on Sunday.

The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the first. Marquardt led off with a double to the wall in right center, move to third on a single by Max Kelly a scored on a groundout by Stilp. With the Bulldogs trailing 4-2, Jeremy Knutson singled up the middle to lead off the top of the seventh. He moved up to third on a ground out and a flyout and scored on a wild pitch to cut the East Bethel lead to 4-2, setting the stage for the pivotal inning.

The Bulldog defense struggled in this game, but starter Hunter Lindstrom was able to pitch out of some jams and keep the score close. Five of the Bandits’ ten runs were unearned, including four in the bottom of the seventh.   

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