July 27, 2006 at 9:11 a.m.

Wildcats win four to advance to District 10 playoffs

Wildcats win four to advance to District 10 playoffs
Wildcats win four to advance to District 10 playoffs

In last week’s North End Subdistrict baseball tournament, the Wildcats lost their first game to Mora, putting themselves in the losers’ bracket. But they came back to win four straight games to earn a berth in this week’s District 10 tournament.

Legion playoffs are played by American League rules, which means (among other things) that tournament games are nine innings instead of the usual seven and that starters substituted for are not allowed to re-enter the game. As a result, Wildcat catcher Eric Reed caught all five games – 45 innings – for the Wildcats in the three days of the tournament.

Tuesday, July 18 – Mora 6, Chisago Lakes 5

The Wildcats overcame a second inning Mora grand slam and tied Mora 6-6 in the ninth to send the game into extra innings. But Mora scored in the bottom of the tenth for a 7-6 victory at Princeton.

The Mora grand slam came with two outs after three Mustangs had walked to load the bases. The Wildcats got a run back in the top of the third on a walk to Bob LeVasseur and singles by Tommy Fitzer and Adam Gemuenden, but Mora added a run of their own in the bottom of the third to make the score 5-1.

Three straight singles by LeVasseur, Fitzer and Gemuenden in the top of the fifth made the score 5-2. After Mike Welle walked, Ryan Rivard grounded into a double play as Fitzer scored. With Gemuenden on third and two outs, Jeff Hollister ripped a 1-0 pitch over the fence in straightaway left field for his first home run of the season. That tied the game at 5-5.

Mora scored to take a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth. Chris Wille walked to lead off the ninth for the Wildcats. With one out, Fitzer’s bunt single moved Wille to second. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Gemuenden’s grounder to short scored Wille and sent the game into extra innings.

Mora scored on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the tenth to win the game 7-6.

Tuesday, July 18 – Chisago Lakes 11, North Branch 4

The Wildcats took a 5-0 lead after two innings and went on to defeat the North Branch Vikings 11-4 at Princeton. The loss knocked the Vikings out of the tournament and advanced the ‘Cats to the next round.

Dan Kaiser and Adam Gemuenden drove in two runs each for the Wildcats, while Bob LeVasseur, Tommy Fitzer and Jeff Hollister each had two hits. Hollister, Aaron Rivard and Eric Reed each doubled in the victory. Dan Kaiser pitched the first eight innings for the Wildcats, allowing just three earned runs.

Wednesday, July 19 – Chisago Lakes 11, Pine City 4

The Wildcats were nearly eliminated from the tournament by the Pine City Dragons, who had won only one game all season. Trailing 4-3 going into the top of the ninth, the Wildcats scored eight runs to win going away by a 11-4 score at Cambridge. Mike Welle pitched all nine innings for the Wildcats, striking out five and allowing just one earned run for the victory.

The Wildcats got on the board early. Tommy Fitzer reached on a bunt single with one out in the top of the first. Adam Gemuenden doubled to drive in Fitzer and Welle followed with a single to score Gemuenden.

Leading 2-1 going into the third, the Wildcats loaded the bases with no outs. Aaron Rivard grounded into a double play, but a run scored to make it 3-1 Wildcats. In the bottom of the fifth, the Dragons had runners on second and third with two outs. The next batter hit a grounder that looked like it would end the inning, but a Wildcat infielder booted the grounder and two runs scored to tie the game.

Pine City took the lead in the bottom of the eighth as the Wildcat defense let down. A single and an error put runners on first and second with no outs. The next batter attempted to sacrifice the runners along, but Welle fielded the bunt, whirled and threw to third to get the lead runner. A throwing error moved the runner from second up to third and a balk allowed the run to score.

Aaron Rivard singled to lead off the top of the ninth for the Wildcats. Pinch-hitter Ryan Rivard doubled to move Aaron to third. LeVasseur singled to tie the game. Then came what can best be described as a “Charlie Brown home run.” With runners on first and third, Fitzer singled to right to score Aaron Rivard with the go-ahead run. Pine City tried to throw out LeVasseur as he advanced to third, but the ball got past the third baseman, allowing LeVasseur to score. An alert Fitzer, who’d gone to second on the throw, also tried to advance to third. The throw hit the base, rolling into short left field. Fitzer raced home to make the score 7-4.

The Wildcats added four more runs in the inning, as Welle doubled, Hollister tripled, Kaiser singled, Aaron Rivard doubled and Ryan Rivard singled to give the Wildcats an 11-4 lead. Welle shut down the Dragons 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.

Thursday, July 20 – Chisago Lakes 17, St. Francis 7

Adam Gemuenden drove in seven runs with two three-run homers and a walk to lead the Wildcats to a 17-7 win over St. Francis at Hinckley, the team that had beaten the Wildcats in the last two games of the season the previous week.

Gemuenden broke open a close game with his first home run in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Wildcats scored four runs to make the score 7-3. The Wildcats batted 12 men in the bottom of the seventh, scoring seven runs to make the score 14-5. St. Francis scored two more runs in the top of the eighth, but Gemuenden’s long blast into the trees towering above the fence in right gave the Wildcats a 17-7 lead and ended the game due to the ten-run rule.

Ryan Rivard, Dan Kaiser and Gemuenden combined for the victory. Bob LeVasseur had three hits and scored four runs. Jeff Hollister had three hits, Tommy Fitzer had two hits, including a double and Eric Reed also had two hits.

Thursday, July 20 – Chisago Lakes 10, Mora 6

The Wildcats avenged their opening round loss to Mora, winning 10-6 at Hinckley to advance to the District 10 playoffs.

The Wildcats got on the board first as Mike Welle drove in Bob LeVasseur with a double in the bottom of the first inning. Mora scored single runs in the second and third to take the lead, but run scoring singles in the bottom of the third by Jeff Hollister and Trevor Nowack tied the score at 3-3. Mora scored single runs in the fourth and fifth to take a 5-3 lead. The Wildcats tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on a David Willhite single and a Bob LeVasseur groundout.

The Wildcats took the lead in the sixth. Hollister singled with one out and Aaron Rivard singled with two down. The next three Wildcat batters – Dan Kaiser, Willhite and LeVasseur – walked, scoring two runs for a 7-5 Wildcat lead.

Mora scored a run in the top of the eighth to tighten the game to 7-6. But the Wildcats answered with three runs to give themselves a little breathing room. Aaron Rivard singled to lead off the inning. With two outs and Rivard on second, LeVasseur singled to drive in one run. Tim Johnson then followed with a double down the right field line to score LeVasseur. Adam Gemuenden’s second double of the game scored Johnson with the third run of the inning.

Gemuenden pitched the first three innings and LeVasseur pitched the last six to combine for the win. RBI leaders were LeVasseur with three and Willhite with two. Hollister had three hits and Aaron Rivard, Nowack and Gemuenden had two hits apiece.

District Playoff Schedule

With their victory over Mora, the Wildcats advanced to the District 10 playoffs. They were scheduled to play two games Wednesday, July 26, against Eden Prairie and Buffalo. Today, Thursday July 27, they’ll play Centennial at 6 p.m. Depending on the results of the first three games, the Wildcats could also play Friday and Saturday. All games will be played at Haddox Field, which is located at 90th and Portland in Bloomington. The top four teams from the 16-team district tournament will advance to next week’s State Legion Tournament.


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