August 7, 2003 at 10:41 a.m.
Bloomington Blue 19
Chisago Lakes 1
The district 10 tournament started with a thud last Wednesday for the Chisago Lakes American Legion baseball team. Playing Bloomington Blue in the first round, the Wildcats only managed five hits. Meanwhile, Bloomington blistered the ball every chance they got, scoring 19 runs, defeating the ‘Cats 19-1 in seven innings.
“They hit the ball really well. They opened it up in the fifth by a combination of bad plays on our side and good hitting,” commented Trent Grams, Chisago Lakes head coach. “It was one of those games where you don’t even want to think about it.”
Down 2-0 in the third, Bloomington added four more in the fourth before putting a nail in the Wildcats coffin in the fifth. Chisago scored their first and only run of the game in the seventh on a wild pitch. By that time, the outcome had already been determined.
“We started to get ready for the next game in the sixth inning,” said Grams. “We were hoping that we would get St. Michael-Albertville in the next round and that’s what happened.”
Good thing. One loss from elimination, the ‘Cats needed all of the breaks they could get.
District 10 tournament
Chisago Lakes 10
While their opponent in last Wednesday’s loser out game was familiar, the ‘Cats found themselves in a odd situation. Very few times this season have they had to come back after a loss. Never an 18 run loss.
“I was a little worried how they would respond,” remarked Grams. “It was a loser out game so we didn’t have much of a choice.”
Playing with desperation seemed to work for Cole Agre. Starting his first game of the tournament, Agre pitched a gem, going the distance while striking out six. It proved to be the shot in the arm the ‘Cats needed.
“He came in and had good control like he always does,” said Grams. “He kept the ball down and we played well behind him. He got our defense involved which is key, you don’t want them standing around.”
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the third, Chisago cracked the scoreboard and never looked back. The Wildcats sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning, scoring six runs. Mike Golv’s two run single highlighted the offensive attack.
The ‘Cats pushed their lead to 7-1 with one more run in the fourth. Danny Reed, Thomas Moody, and Brandon Carlson combined for back-to-back-to-back singles, running the Wildcat lead to six.
After St. Michael answered back with one run in the fifth, Chisago finished the scoring with three more runs in the sixth and seventh. Moody, Agre, and Jimmy Achartz all doubled, Agre and Achartz produced RBI’s.
From there, Agre did his thing on the mound, closing things down. In addition to striking out six, Agre allowed nine hits and no walks.
“It was good to see them bounce back and play a team closer to our caliber,” commented Grams.
The journey was far from over. Up next, another Rum River rival, Mora, in another loser-out game.
District 10 tournament
Chisago Lakes 5
Believe it or not, the Wildcats were exactly where they hoped to be.
“That was what we wanted,” said Grams. “If you’re from the north-end, you hope you can play a team from there and that’s what we got.”
Furthermore, Mora, the number one seed coming out of the north-end division, was without the services of their star pitcher Josh Oslin. Pitchers are only eligible to pitch 12 innings in the tournament, Oslin had already pitched nine.
Things were looking up for the ‘Cats but that feeling didn’t last. The Mustangs opened the game with one run in the first and one more in the second to take a 2-0 lead.
Fighting back, the Wildcats strung together three hits in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs to tie the score. Still, Chisago could not get over the hump. Mora answered by scoring the next four runs to jump in front 6-2.
Down by four in the bottom of the eighth, the ‘Cats made one final push. Batting with two outs and the bases loaded, Danny Reed brought them all in with a three run double, pulling Chisago within one. The Wildcats were inches away from taking the lead. Hitting with Reed at second, Kevin Schneider sent a blast to left center. However, the ball was caught at the fence, signifying things to come.
Mora added an insurance run in the ninth to increase their lead to two. In the bottom of the ninth, Chisago got two runners on base but could not bring them in, losing the game 7-5. The loss eliminated the ‘Cats from the tournament.
“It was a fun game. Both teams played really hard. We made too many mistakes and those errors cost us some runs. That’s really the first time all year where our errors cost us runs,” remarked Grams, who is stepping down as head coach. “It was a good season. We got to where we wanted to be. You hope for a couple of breaks in the draw and that’s what we got. We just didn’t take care of business.”
The Wildcats finish the season with a 19-7 record. Talk has already begun about next year. Seven of the nine starters on this year’s team will return.
“They’re fun to work with and they’re really talented,” commented Grams. “I’m pretty sure, next year they’ll even be better. That’s a scary thought.”