June 5, 2003 at 2:33 p.m.
Chisago Lakes 4
It wasn’t exactly David vs. Goliath, but close. Standing in the way of the Chisago Lakes baseball team last Monday in the Section 7AA semifinals in Cambridge was Josh Oslin, a hard throwing fire-baller who was rated as the state’s number one prospect in the upcoming Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. It was the same Josh Oslin Chisago had beaten earlier in the year accounting for the senior’s only loss of the year, and what was believed to be his only loss in four years of high school baseball. Can lightning strike twice?
“We hit his fastball pretty good the first time we faced him but there is no question he’s the real deal,” remarked Pat Collins, Chisago Lakes head baseball coach. “It’s kind of intimidation sitting there looking at Terry Ryan in the stands (Minnesota Twins General Manager). He is Major League caliber and everyone knows it.”
If they didn’t, everyone found out pretty quick. Oslin greeted the ‘Cats with two strike-outs in the first inning. If that wasn’t difficult enough, Mora helped their pitcher out in the top of the second with two quick runs on two hits to put Chisago in an early hole.
The hole got deeper for the Wildcats in the fourth as Mora struck for three more runs. Batting against Chisago starter Matt Stomberg, the Mustangs sent eight batters to the plate in the inning, combining for three hits two walks, extending their lead to 5-0.
With seven strike-outs through three and two thirds, Oslin showed no signs of slowing down until Kevin Schneider picked up the ‘Cats second hit of the game with a single to right. The ball got past the right fielder, allowing Schneider to reach third with two outs. Thomas Moody followed with a bloop single over second base to get Chisago on the board. Moody was later thrown out trying to steal to end the inning.
The score remained 5-1 Mora until the sixth when something happened that allowed Chisago to make a run. After walking Jimmy Achartz and Danny Reed, Oslin was pulled in favor of left-hander Mike Moravec. The move would change the complexion of the game.
“I think he was going through some back spasms and his back was sore. When we first faced him, we really hit his fastball so I think he threw a lot more curveballs this time around and that maybe aggravated something,” remarked Collins. “He’s tough, but you get that great feeling when the big horse comes out and you finally get a chance.”
A chance that the Wildcats were going to make the most of. Batting with the bases loaded, Moody walked to score Achartz for the ‘Cats second run of the game. Reed and Schneider each added to the rally by stealing home, giving Chisago three runs in the inning, pulling within one at 5-4.
After Reed held Mora scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Wildcats were left with the final at bat. A two out walk by Achartz kept things alive followed by another walk to Derrick Olson, putting the tying run at second base for Reed. However, with a 3-2 count, Reed swung through a Moravec curveball, ending the game, dropping the Wildcats into the losers’ bracket.
“We had our chances,” commented Collins. “That’s exactly what we wanted. We got the tying run in scoring position for our best hitter but it didn’t work out. You gear up for a 92 mph fastball all week in practice and then you see a 71 mph fastball. It’s really tough to adjust. I think their pitcher had five walks and four strikeouts, our hitters were just ahead of the pitches. It’s a tough deal but we gave it our best shot.”
The loss meant a match-up with Grand Rapids was up next with the loser going home. The Wildcats were down to their last game.
Mora 5, Chisago Lakes 4
Mora 020 300 0 5 9
Chisago Lakes 000 103 0 4 3
Achartz 1-2, R
Reed 0-3, R
Schneider 1-2, 2 R
Moody 1-2, 2 RBI
Section 7AA Baseball
Grand Rapids 9
Chisago Lakes 2
The Section 7AA loser-out game presented a unique challenge for both teams. Both, Chisago Lakes and Grand Rapids were number one seeds heading into the tournament, and both were one game away from going home.
The Wildcats found out right away why Grand Rapids was labeled the favorite. The Thunderhawks jumped on Wildcat starter Chip Bemlott in the second with one run on two hits. Down 1-0, Chisago answered back with a good second of their own. After Kyle Collins led-off the inning with a single and was moved to second on a sacrifice, Derrick Olson tied the game 1-1 by doubling in Collins. Olson would later score on a wild pitch making the score 2-1 Wildcats.
The lead wouldn’t last for long. Grand Rapids entered the fourth down by one; they finished the inning up by four. The Thunderhawks made some noise with the opening batter and never slowed down, sending ten batters to the plate, scoring five runs on four hits. Chisago also committed two errors in the inning.
“We made a few mistakes here and there that cost us the game,” said Collins. “The scouting report on Grand Rapids was that they were a team with two good pitchers, strong defense, but they couldn’t hit a lick. We found out that they were a good team with two good pitchers, strong defense, and that they could knock the snot out of the ball. They were one of the best teams I’ve seen all year.”
The hits continued to pile up for Grand Rapids with three more in the seventh leading to three runs, increasing their lead to 9-2. Chisago Lakes went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, putting a close on the season with a 9-2 loss.
“Your disappointed with the loss but then you realize that we probably weren’t supposed to be there in the first place,” remarked Collins. “We’re losing two senior starters this season and everyone else will be back. We almost set a school record in wins this year and we’re going to have seven to eight starters back. I’m happy with the season and I’m really looking forward to next year.”
So are we.
Grand Rapids 9, Chisago Lakes 2
Grand Rapids 010 500 3 9 9
Chisago Lakes 020 000 0 2 3
Collins 1-3, R
Olson 1-2, RBI, R
Section 7AA Baseball
Chisago Lakes 5
Forest Lake 4
Before the Section final four, Chisago Lakes used an exciting late inning rally to squeak past Forest Lake in sub-section play last Thursday.
The game started off as a pitchers duel. On the mound for the top-seeded Wildcats was Chip Bemlott. The lefty got the game ball and responded by keeping the Rangers off balance, throwing a no-hitter through the first four innings. Meanwhile, Offensively, Chisago was equally confused through the first two innings before making their move in the third.
After Danny Reed started things with a walk, Kevin Schneider reached on an error. Batting with runners on second and third with one out, Thomas Moody made it 2-0 Chisago with a two run double.
Still 2-0 in the top of the fifth, the wheels began to fall off for the Wildcats, committing three errors, allowing Forest Lake to not only get back into the game, but eventually take the lead. Tied 2-2 in the sixth, the Rangers took their first lead of the game on a Reed throwing error followed by another run on a wild pitch, giving Forest Lake a 4-2 lead.
“Things weren’t going our way,” said Collins. “Forest Lake didn’t even get a hit until the fifth and they had the lead. We didn’t give up hope. We talk about making the other team play all seven innings and that’s what we did.”
The score remained that way heading into the bottom of the seventh. Things looked bleak to most but not all. Standing along the fence down the first base line, I overheard two kids talking about the game. “I can’t believe were down 4-2, we need to win this game,” commented one young boy. “Don’t worry, we’ll come back. We always do,” said the other.
Like a psychic looking into the future, they did. Jake Berger kicked off the party in the seventh with a single followed by back-to-back free passes to Jimmy Achartz and Mike Golv. The bases were juiced for Reed. Plagued by a migraine throughout the game, the junior put the pain aside just for a moment, After all, that’s all it took. Reed blistered the Forest Lake pitch to the gap in right field, clearing the bases in dramatic fashion. When the winning run, Mike Golv, crossed home plate, chaos ensued.
“What a perfect way to end it,” remembered Collins. “It was a great win in front of your home fans in your last home game of the year. Our best hitter coming through, everybody jumping up and down at home plate. We didn’t get a lot of breaks in that game but we kept on battling hoping that everything would even out and it did.”
Along with his three RBI’s, Reed picked up the win on the mound. Jake Berger and Moody each finished with two hits.
Chisago Lakes 5, Forest Lake 4
Forest Lake 000 022 0 4 4
Chisago Lakes 000 200 3 5 7
Achartz 1-3, R
Golv 0-2, R
Reed 1-2, 3 RBI, R
Schneider 0-3, R
Moody 2-3, 2 RBI
Berger 2-3, R