May 13, 2004 at 4:06 p.m.
Chisago Lakes 8
Their unprecedented march began May 3 when the Wildcats traveled to Foley. It was a typical game as the power display started early, giving the ‘Cats control of the game from the opening pitch. Chisago scored runs in each of the first four innings, mounting a 7-2 lead en route to a 8-3 win. The victory improved their conference mark to 7-0 and pushed their overall record to 11-2.
Batting in the top of the first, Mark Unger led off the inning with a single before stealing second. Two batters later, Danny Reed powered a double to the outfield, scoring Unger for the first run of the game. Unger and Reed both had a part in the three run second inning as well. After Karl Lee and Matt Stomberg both reached base, Unger brought them both in with a single, increasing the lead to 3-0. Then, after a walk to Shawn Rancourt, Reed connected for his second double of the game, scoring Unger to push the ‘Cat lead to 4-0.
The Wildcats would not let down.
After Foley answered with one run in the bottom of the second, the Wildcats went back to work in the third, scoring two more runs. Helped out by back-to-back Falcon errors, Lee and Todd Froberg trotted home in the third, followed by one more run in the fourth on a Stomberg RBI. Through four innings of play, the lead was 7-2. In addition, eight of the nine batters in the Wildcat line-up had reached base at least once.
“They just keep constant pressure on,” smiled Pat Collins, Chisago Lakes head baseball coach. “There isn’t a weak spot in our line-up right now so they make the other team play every inning- every out. Plus, another big key is that we are not striking out a lot.”
Leading 7-2, the Wildcats shut the door on the Falcons down the stretch, holding Foley to one run on three hits. Meanwhile, the Wildcats added an insurance run in the sixth, finishing off the 8-3 win. Stomberg, Unger, and Reed each finished the game with two RBI’s. Mike Golv picked up the win on the mound.
“We’re hitting the ball well right now. I’ve told the kids to walk with a little bit of a swagger, they’re a good hitting ball club,” mentioned Collins. “But at the same time, we have a lot of flaws as well and we need to keep working on some things. We still have a long way to go.”
Chisago Lakes 8, Foley 3
Chisago Lakes 132 101 0 8 9
Foley 011 000 1 3 4
Unger 2-5, 2 RBI, 2 R
Reed 3-5, 2 RBI, R
Collins 0-5, R
Lee 1-4, 2 R
Stomberg 1-2, 2 RBI, R
Froberg 0-3, R
WP: Golv (4-0)
5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, ER, 5 K
Chisago Lakes 10
Hitting the ball well? Well might not actually define it. How about great? Or superb? Just three days after scoring eight runs against Foley, seven of which came in the first four innings, the Wildcats put up 10 on the scoreboard against Princeton. Six of those came in the first two innings.
Chisago struck for five in the first. Jimmy Achartz and Mark Unger set the tone with back-to-back walks followed by a Danny Reed RBI single. After Thomas Moody knocked in the second run of the game on a ground-out, Karl Lee doubled in Reed, then Derrick Olson brought everyone in with a two-run home run. The round tripper was Olson’s second of the season, running the ‘Cat lead to 5-0. Another early lead.
“It’s big for us to jump in front,” mentioned Collins. “The big thing with us right now is that, after you get by our four-hitter, then you have to deal with our five-hitter, then our six-hitter, then out seven-hitter. We have about four or five four-hitters in our line-up right now. It makes it awfully tough to pitch around.”
If the Tigers tried to pitch around the ‘Cats, they didn’t do a very good job. Leading 5-0 after one, Reed added his second RBI of the game in the second with a triple, running the Chisago lead to 6-0.
After Princeton scored one in the bottom of the second, the Wildcats finished the game with four more runs including three in the sixth. On the heels of a run the inning before, Moody added two more runs with a single, accounting for two of the three runs scored in the inning. Despite three late runs by the Tigers, the Wildcats still walked away with a 10-4 win.
“The big thing for us in that game was that we had a big enough lead where we could take out our starter and rest him for St. Michael in a couple of days,” remarked Collins. “You have to have confidence in a guy like Ike Dibble to come in and do the job. That enabled us to rest Matt Stomberg because Ike did his job the rest of the way. That proved to be huge for us.”
Why was St. Michael already on their mind? After their 10-4 win over Princeton, the win pushed the ‘Cats conference record to 8-0, moving their conference lead to two games over the Knights and Mora Mustangs.
Chisago Lakes 10, Princeton 4
Chisago Lakes 510 013 0 10 8
Princeton 010 002 1 4 7
Achartz 1-3, 3 R
Unger 0-3, 2 R
Reed 2-3, 2 RBI, R
Moody 2-4, 3 RBI, R
Lee 1-3, RBI, R
Olson 1-3, 2 RBI, HR, R
Pearl 0-3, R
WP: Stomberg (4-1)
Chisago Lakes 11
Pat Collins knew how important last Monday’s game with St. Michael-Albertville was, and so did his seniors. The class of seven has been with Collins through thick and thin, enjoying success and encountering failure along the way.
They knew that they controlled their own destiny. All they needed to do was win.
Once again, Chisago’s bats exploded, piling up four runs in the second and 11 in the game, picking up a 11-8 win. And while the seniors played their normal solid game, a junior provided the fireworks. On the heels of a home run in his last game against Princeton, Derrick Olson went yard twice, driving in five RBI’s in the game, giving him four round-trippers on the season. If winning the Rum River title is the ‘Cats destiny, then they are right on track.
“It was a key win because we have Mora coming up who is also in second place. You don’t want to play a second place team when they know that if they win, they will be tied for first,” said Collins. “It’s much easier to play a second place team with an extra game on them.”
Olson hit his bomb in the second inning. With runners on first and second, Olson unloaded on a curveball, sending it over the fence in leftcenter field, pushing the Chisago lead to 3-0. Josh Pearl rounded out the scoring in the second, scoring the fourth run of the inning short time later, giving the Wildcats a cushion.
They would need it. St. Michael answered back with a home run of their own, one of three homers hit by the Knights in the game, cutting the Chisago lead to 4-2. However, the Wildcats weren’t done either, scoring two more in the bottom of the third, running their lead to 6-2. Both runs came on Olson’s second home run of the game.
“Olson is a guy that is a pretty typical baseball player,” mentioned Collins. “If he gets going, confidence is a funny thing- he starts to believe he’s a pretty good hitter. When he’s confident at the plate, he’s one of the better hitters you will see.”
The fireworks were far from over however as St. Michael, who was down 6-3 at the time, used two more runs in the top of the sixth to pull within one at 6-5.
Forced to respond, the Wildcats did in typical fashion, striking for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to officially put the game away. Kyle Collins and Karl Lee each picked up RBI’s in the sixth, jumping Chisago in front 11-5. The Knights three runs in the seventh closed the gap to three before Achartz shut the door, striking out two of the last three batters he faced to end the game.
Achartz was just one of many seniors on the field who refused to let the Wildcats lose.
“I’m going to make sure I enjoy writing in the names of my seniors each day in the line-up card,” mentioned Collins. “They have been with me since sixth grade. I will miss them greatly, it has been a great run. They are all great guys and it has been an honor for me to coach them.”
Now 9-0 in conference and 13-2 overall, the Wildcats set their sights on the final two weeks of the season, and their final three conference games of the year. Up next, second place Mora on Thursday, so don’t expect Chisago to lose focus.
“We played the team who was in second place, then on Thursday, we play the team who is in second place. You just don’t get a break,” replied Collins. “Then you have Milaca who is the surprise of the conference, and then North Branch who has given you the closest game all year. These next three games are going to be really difficult.”
After three straight conference games, Chisago finishes the year with Mahtomedi and Cambridge, both non-conference opponents. Sub-sections begin on June 1st.
Chisago Lakes 11, STMA 8
STMA 002 102 3 8 11
Chisago Lakes 042 005 X 11 7
Unger 0-3, R
Reed 1-3, R
Moody 0-3, R
Collins 1-4, RBI, R
Lee 2-3, RBI, 3 R
Olson 3-4, 5 RBI, 2 HR
Pearl 0-4, R
WP: Stomberg (5-1)
6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 K
2 H, 2 R, 2 ER
IP, 2 K