May 20, 2010 at 9:35 a.m.
In the opening game of a doubleheader last Wednesday, May 12 at St. Francis, Bryan Eichten's two-run single broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth inning. Travis Ongstad singled to drive in another run, and the Wildcats came away with a 6-3 win. Ongstad also starred on the mound in this one, allowing one earned run on just four hits, striking out five and walking five in eight innings of work. Tyler Rivard pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the save.
The Fighting Saints scored a run in the first on a single, a walk and a couple of groundouts. The Wildcats tied it in the second. Joey Reed walked to lead off the inning, went to third on Eichten's double and scored on Travis Ongstad's booming double to deep left. Eichten somehow ended up only getting to third base on the play and was stranded there when the inning ended.
The Wildcats scored twice in the top of the sixth. Kyle Buchanan walked and went to second on Tyler Henderson's single. Reed's grounder forced Buchanan at third. Eichten singled to drive in one run, sending Reed all the way to third. Reed scored on a passed ball, and the Wildcats led 3-1. But the Wildcats gift-wrapped two runs for St. Francis in the bottom of the inning. The Saints managed just one weak single in the rally, but two walks and two errors led to the tying runs. Neither team scored in the seventh, sending the game into extra innings and setting the stage for Eichten's timely base knock.
"Back from an injured shoulder, Travis pitched very well in this one," said Wildcat head coach Pat Collins. "And to top it all off, his infield single in the ninth that gave us an insurance run was ugly but effective."
St. Francis 8, Chisago Lakes 1
The Wildcats took an early 1-0 lead in the nightcap, but St. Francis eventually took apart three Wildcat pitchers and came away with an 8-1 win. The Wildcat bats fell silent as they came up with just five hits.
Bryan Eichten led off the second with one of his two singles on the day. He stole second, went to third when Jeff Sargeant reached on an error and scored on Tyler Rivard's single. The Fighting Saints scored three run apiece in the third and fifth innings and the usually heavy-hitting Wildcats couldn't answer.
"It was pretty simple in this one," said Collins. "They pitched well and our pitchers got drilled. That's what happens when you don't keep the ball down. You have to tip your cap to a good team like St. Francis. We didn't lose this game by errors or mental mistakes. They just played well and beat us."
Benilde 10, Chisago Lakes 9 (8 innings)
The Wildcats blew a seven-run lead to Benilde St. Margaret's, eventually losing 10-9 in eight innings last Friday, May 14 at Dakota Park in St. Louis Park.
The box score doesn't tell the whole story in this one. The Wildcats led 7-2 going into the bottom of the fifth. Wildcat pitchers gave up three walks and two hits. But one of the hits was a fly ball that should have been caught. Add a fly ball dropped for an error into the mix, and it adds up to five runs and a 7-7 tie after five.
The Wildcats re-took the lead in the sixth. Joe LaBarre and Kyle Buchanan walked to put runners on first and second with two outs. Tyler Henderson drilled a single drive in LaBarre. Benilde tied it up in the bottom of the inning. In the seventh, Bryan Eichten walked and Travis Ongstad drilled a double over the center fielder's head to drive in Eichten. In the bottom of the seventh, the leadoff batter doubled for the Red Knights. The runner took too big of a lead off second, but a pickoff throw sailed into center field and he went to third. He scored on a single, and the game was tied again, at 9-9.
The Red Knights ended it in the bottom of the eighth. After a two out single and a hit batter, the lead runner scored on two wild pitches and the back and forth battle was over.
The Wildcats had scored seven runs in the top of the third inning to seemingly put this one away early. Tyler Rivard singled and went to second on LaBarre's sacrifice bunt. Cody Bergquist singled to put runners on first and third. Buchanan doubled in the first Wildcat run. Tyler Henderson walked, and Joey Reed singled to drive in two and make it 3-0. After a strikeout, Ongstad coaxed a walk to load the bases. Jeff Sargeant then came up with the big blow of the inning, a three-run double that doubled the Wildcat lead to 6-0. Rivard singled for the second time in the inning to drive in Sargeant, and the Wildcats had a huge 7-0 lead.
To add to the sting of the loss, starting pitcher and staff ace Joey Reed injured his elbow during the fifth inning. His return is uncertain, but he may be able to pitch again by the time the section tournament rolls around in a couple of weeks. The Wildcats need a healthy Reed on the mound to have a realistic chance of winning the section and going to the state tournament.
"Three runs scored on one play when we misjudged a fly ball in the fifth," said Wildcat head coach Pat Collins. "In fact, if we caught three balls that we should have in this one, we would have won by about 9-1. Cody came in and pitched great after Joey got hurt, but the outfield defense let him down."
The Wildcats play at Cambridge-Isanti next Wednesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. They will finish off the regular season with another night game, hosting traditional rival Forest Lake at Chisago Lakes at 7 p.m. Section playoffs will start the following Wednesday, June 2. The Wildcats will likely be at home for the first playoff game.