June 16, 2005 at 7:45 a.m.

Wildcats fall one game short of state tournament bid

Wildcats fall one game short of state tournament bid
Wildcats fall one game short of state tournament bid

The Wildcats were rolling. Seeded number one out of the south in last week’s section 7AAA baseball tournament, the ‘Cats needed two wins to advance to state. They got one. In the end, the ‘Cats simply ran out of gas, falling to Grand Rapids last Wednesday in the section 7AAA final by a score of 13-5. With the win, the Thunderhawks advanced to the state tournament. As for Chisago, their impressive season finally came to a close, finishing the year with a record of 20-6.

Section 7AAA Playoffs

Chisago Lakes 5

Grand Rapids 3

Chisago Lakes faced Grand Rapids three times during the double elimination tournament. The teams met for the first time Monday June 6 in St. Francis. In that game, the Wildcats were on top of their game, both at the plate and on the mound. Senior Zander Mueller got the start for Chisago, pitching seven complete innings, allowing just seven hits and three runs. Meanwhile on offense, thanks to a potent attack from the middle of their order, scoring more than three runs was a breeze.

Chisago got on the board first with a run in the bottom of the third. After David Olson came through with a one-out single, two batters later, Zack Stimson drove him home with a single of his own, making the score 1-0.

Down by one, Grand Rapids not only clawed back but took the lead in the top of the fourth with three runs. The Thunderhawks did their damage in impressive fashion, connecting for two doubles and a home run in the inning. The blast of offense put Grand Rapids up by two through three and a half innings.

It didn’t take long for Chisago to answer. Batting in the bottom of the fourth, the ‘Cats struck for two runs to tie the game as both Kyle Collins and Adam Gemuenden crossed the plate, evening the score at 3-3.

The score stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth when Chisago jumped in front for good. The Wildcats opened up the inning with three straight singles by Stimson, Mark Unger and Collins. Collins and Unger scored in the inning, pushing the Wildcats on top. From there, Mueller did the rest by holding Grand Rapids to just one hit over the final two innings, wrapping up a 5-3 win.

The victory put Chisago in the driver’s seat in the section tournament. Because of the double elimination format, the Wildcats had to wait for their next opponent as Grand Rapids fell into the losers bracket. Little did they know, they would see Grand Rapids again, and again.

Section 7AAA playoffs

Grand Rapids 1

Chisago Lakes 0

Most will agree it was the ‘Cats best chance at a win. With their ace Derrick Olson on the mound, Chisago hoped it would be enough for another win and a berth to the state tournament last Tuesday in St. Francis. It almost worked. However, as good as the ‘Cats were, Chisago fell one run short.

The game only featured one run. It came from Grand Rapids in the third inning after an RBI single. Otherwise, the game was dominated by pitching and defense. Offensively, the Wildcats managed just one hit in the game and it came from their first hitter of the game, that’s when Stimson stroked a single. He got as far as second before being forced out. As it turned out, it was the best chance the Wildcats got. From that point on, Chisago managed just three base runners the rest of the game.

Grand Rapids didn’t fare much better. With Olson cruising on the mound, the Thunderhawks managed just two hits the rest of the game after the third inning and only three base runners. It was a pitching battle in every sense of the word. This time around, Grand Rapids managed to be one pitch better.

The loss was the ‘Cats first of the tourney, meaning Chisago and Grand Rapids, both with one loss, would have to play a third and final time for the section title and a trip to state.

Section 7AAA finals

Grand Rapids 13

Chisago Lakes 5

It was Chisago Lakes and Grand Rapids (again), playing for one win- one section title- one state tournament berth.

Playing in St. Francis last Wednesday, both teams went into the game having beaten the other one time earlier in the week. So much for the element of surprise, or at least from the Wildcats anyway.

Unfortunately, Grand Rapids had a huge surprise waiting for the ‘Cats and it wasn’t good. After scoring just four runs combined during their two previous games against Chisago, the Thunderhawks struck for 13 runs on 13 hits. Grand Rapids scored seven of their 13 runs in the fourth inning alone. As for the Wildcats, thanks to a combination of frustration and fatigue, the ‘Cats had nothing in the tank and couldn’t answer. When the dust settled and the smoke finally cleared, Grand Rapids had themselves a 13-5 win and a section 7AAA championship.

Grand Rapids scored their first run of the game in the first, despite not getting a hit. The Wildcats evened the score one inning later after a Lance Baumgard single, scoring Derrick Olson. From point on it was all Grand Rapids.

The Thunderhawks struck for two runs on four hits in the bottom of the third to move in front 3-1. Making matters worse for the Wildcats was the fact that in the top of the third, Chisago had loaded the bases with nobody out before three straight strikeouts ended the inning. It just wasn’t meant to be.

Then in the fourth, Grand Rapids opened the game up with seven runs on five hits. During that stretch of runs, Grand Rapids put six straight runners on base and managed to bat 11 in the inning. Game over.

With two runs on the board, the Wildcats picked up two more in the fifth and one in the seventh. In the fifth, sacrifice flies from Derrick Olson and Karl Lee pushed two runs across before Gemuenden scored the ‘Cats fifth and final run in the seventh on a home run. The blast brought the final score to 13-5 in favor of Grand Rapids.

“If you look at the score, we had two errors and they had two errors. They had 13 hits and we had 11 so I’m not sure how you get an eight run difference on the scoreboard. It just comes down to the fact that they got the big hits and we didn’t,” said Pat Collins, Chisago Lakes head baseball coach.

“At one point in that game, we were out-hitting them seven to one and we were down 3-1. It was frustrating. They walked Kyle in the third and loaded the bases with nobody out and our four, five and six hitters struck out. I’ll tell you what, if we would’ve been able to get a hit there, things would’ve been different. Grand Rapids was ready to quit and we gave them life by not making them pay. Then in the fourth, they got an opportunity to put us away and they did.”

The loss dropped Chisago’s final season record to 20-6.

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