May 24, 2018 at 2:36 p.m.
Chisago Lakes and North Branch have had some great battles over the past couple of years in baseball, but the Wildcats, who have heated up considerably after a slow start, swept North Branch convincingly in a Tuesday, May 15 double header in Chisago Lakes.
The Wildcats got the scoring going in the second inning of the first game when North Branch pitcher Nick Dufeck got himself in trouble with walks. Connor Wilke led off with a walk and stole second base. Owen Dresel drew a walk behind him and Dylan Tashjian knocked an RBI hit just over the infielders’ head, scoring one run. Logan Bjorkman hit the ball hard out to center field for what looked ot be the third out of the inning, but North Branch’s centerfielder misplayed the ball, scoring Tashjain and giving CL a 2-0 lead over North Branch.
The Vikings had a tough time getting any traction against Chisago Lakes’ ace Mitch Barrett. They threatened in the third inning after a walk and wild pitch put Lucas Jensen-Schneider on second base with just one out, but Barrett struck out Clint Mattson and Aaron Robillard to get out of the jam.
Chisago Lakes tried to put some distance between them and NB in the bottom of the third. They got runners on first and second with one out after Henry Trost hit a single and stole second and Barrett walked, but a pop out to center field and a comebacker to the pitcher ended the threat.
The Wildcats added another run in the fifth inning on some small ball tactics. Trost drew a one-out walk and used his speed to steal second base. He moved over to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by David Kimlinger.
North Branch answered back with a single run in the sixth inning. Nick Johnson ripped a two out double over the leftfielders head and Zack Pilz followed by putting the ball in play, and Chisago Lakes committed an error to allow Johnson to score. That was all they’d get against Barrett, though.
The Wildcats added two insurance runs in bottom of the sixth when Adam Hanson drew a two out walk and scored on a double off the wall from Tashjian. Bjorkman poked a single over the shortstop, scoring Tashjain and giving CL a 5-1 lead.
That was enough for Trost, as he came in and pitched a spotless top of the seventh inning the give the ‘Cats a victory in the first game.
“This one was close going into the sixth, but we got a couple of insurance runs that gave us a little breathing room. We didn’t have a lot of hits in this one, but we made the most of them and we took advantage of some walks,” Chisago Lakes Head Coach Jay Brown said. “Mitch has been pitching awfully well lately. He’s throwing strikes, not walking people and putting the ball in play and letting our improved defense make some plays. As a team, we are doing the little things right. North Branch has some guys who can swing the bat and we were able to keep them in check.”
Chisago Lakes 11, North Branch 6
After threatening in the first inning of the second game but coming away empty, the ‘Cats made good on their threat in the second inning, sending 13 men to the plate and scoring nine runs off of North Branch’s Jake Richards.
Hanson led off the inning with a single, Dresel followed with a single and Bjorkman followed with a fielders choice. Cole Brophy knocked out a triple to deep right field, scoring two, Trost hit a double, Kimlinger hit a long single, Barrett hit a single up the middle, Wilke cranked out another single, Hanson hit his second single of the inning, Dresel also collected his second hit of the inning and Bjorkman hit a double before the Vikings coaxed a ground ball out from Brophy.
The parade of hitters spelled early trouble for North Branch. They did attempt to answer back in the top of the third inning, loading the bases with clean up hitter Dawson Linkert at the plate, but he grounded out to Wilke at second base to end the threat.
Chisago Lakes tacked on two more runs in the third inning with Trost and Kimlinger both scoring. Wilke picked up an RBI single in the inning.
North Branch did their best to mount a comeback in the fifth inning, but it fell short with CL enjoying an 11 run lead.
Jensen-Schneider led off by reaching on an error before Mattson flew out to the left fielder. Robillard roped a single to left field and Dillyn Negley followed up with another single up the middle. Linkert delivered this time from his clean up spot, lacing a single to centerfield. Pilz kept the hit parade going with another single and Dylan Ramberg knocked a basehit to centerfield. Mitch Osowski got the last RBI, hitting a single out to left field, but the ‘Cats got Sanvik and Jensen-Schneider to end the inning on back-to-back flyouts.
That was the last run-scoring either team would do as Chisago Lakes ended up winning 11-6 in five innings.
“This game was a good indicator that we’re getting production from the top to the bottom of the lineup,’ Brown noted. “With good balance and everyone contributing, you get a good feeling that when someone stands in the batter’s box they have a chance to knock someone in. And scoring a lot of runs early in this one gave us a chance to take Cole Brophy out of the game and save some of his innings for another game.”