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Paynesville Press - May 3, 2006

Bulldogs regain conference lead

By Michael Jacobson

The Bulldogs baseball team rebounded from its first loss of the season to pound Melrose on Thursday, handing the Dutchmen their first conference loss 15-3 and regaining the conference lead.

The Dogs (5-1 in the West Central Conference North) scored six runs in the second inning and seven in the fifth inning to beat Melrose (4-1) by the ten-run rule in five innings.

Junior rightfielder Cory Nietfeld hit a three-run homer to left to highlight the six-run second inning, and senior catcher John Hemingson hit a grand slam to right-center to highlight the seven-run fifth inning for Paynesville.

"Against Melrose, we really hit the ball well," said coach Brad Skoglund of his #1-ranked team.

After looking tentative at the plate in Tuesday's loss to New London-Spicer, team members stayed after practice on Wednesday to get extra hitting, said Skoglund. They were more focused and more aggressive against one of the better pitchers they have faced this season against Melrose, he added.

Quoting former junior high baseball coach Virg Vagle, better known for his wrestling mentoring, Skoglund told the Dogs: "Swing hard, just in case you hit it."

The Dogs pounded 13 hits in five innings against Melrose. It started in the first inning as junior Alex Naujokas led off the game with a base hit, and he scored on a two-out triple by Hemingson, who in turn scored on a two-out single by Nietfeld.

Melrose, meanwhile, scored two runs without making an out in the bottom of the first, tying the game 2-2 and still having runners on second and third. Senior James Paul, though, was able to pitch out of the inning, stranding both runners.

"That was huge," said Skoglund of keeping the momentum.

The Dogs answered with six runs in the top of the second. After a walk and a single by junior Steve Gerding, who stole second, Naujokas delivered a two-run single to give the Dogs the lead for good. Another run scored on a groundout, Hemingson singled, and then Nietfeld hit a towering blast over the leftfield fence for an 8-2 lead.

Melrose scored again in the bottom of the second, and the score remained 8-3 until the top of the fifth. A single by senior Derek Looman and two walks loaded the bases. A force out scored one run, but a hit batter loaded the bases again for Hemingson, who cleared them with a shot to right-center.

The Dogs scored two more runs in the inning with a walk, a Melrose error, and a single by junior Chuck Mackedanz.

With the win, the Dogs (5-1 in the WCC North) took a half game lead over Melrose (4-1) in the conference with New London-Spicer (3-2) a game and a half back.

The Dogs were also scheduled to play in a tournament at Big Lake on Saturday, but this was postponed due to the weather. On Monday, the Dogs were scheduled to play a make-up game against Sauk Centre on Monday, but this was again postponed until Monday, May 8.

This week, the Dogs hosted LPGE on Tuesday. On Thursday, they will travel to St. Cloud to play Cathedral, with the varsity playing a night game starting at 7 p.m.

Next week, the Dogs will host Sauk Centre on Monday, May 8, and Minnewaska on Tuesday, May 9.

Paynesville-- 260 000 0 - 1513 0
Melrose-- 210 000 0 - 3 6 1

Paynesville - Batting: John Hemingson 3-4 HR RBI-5 R-3; Alex Naujokas 3-4 RBI-3 R; Cory Nietfeld 2-4 HR RBI-4 R-2; Steve Gerding 1-1 R; Chuck Mackedanz 1-1; Mitch Mueller 1-1; Derek Looman 1-3 R; James Paul 1-3 R-2 RBI; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Paul (W) (7-6-3-3-2-2).

Melrose - Batting: Adam Stangler 3-3 2B HR R-2; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Matt Moorman (L) (2-7-8-8-2-0).

NL-S 2, Paynesville 1
New London-Spicer, which moved to the West Central Conference North this year, handed the Dogs their first loss of the season in baseball with a 2-1 win on Tuesday, April 25, at PAHS.

The Dogs led 1-0 for most of the game until the Wildcats scored twice in the top of the sixth and won 2-1.

The Dogs scored their run in the first on a pair of Wildcat errors, and the Wildcats used two Paynesville errors to score two runs in the sixth.

With strong pitching from Michael Danielson of NL-S and senior John Hemingson of Paynesville, both teams managed only five hits, three for NL-S and two for Paynesville.

"We just didn't hit well," said coach Brad Skoglund. "We weren't agressive at the plate. We took way too many strikes. When we did swing, it was like we were feeling for the ball."

Junior Alex Naujokas singled in the third inning for the Dogs, and junior Cory Nietfeld singled in the sixth for the team's only two hits.

The Dogs stranded six runners on base, while NL-S stranded four.

The Dogs did have some defensive highlights, including turning double plays in the first and second innings. Senior shortstop James Paul turned a 6U, 6-3 double play in the first inning and started a 6-4-3 double play in the second inning with junior Chuck Mackedanz at second and senior Mark Andrie at first.

To end the third inning, senior centerfielder Trent Hansen made a terrific catch. "As good as catch, maybe better, than the one at state," said Skoglund.

Last year, the Dogs beat NL-S three times on their way to the Class AA state title, including beating the Wildcats 11-0 for the subsection title and 8-4 for the section title.

NL-S-- 000 002 0 - 23 4
Paynesville-- 100 000 0 - 1 2 3

Paynesville - Batting: Austin Hadley 1-3 R; Scott Hjelle 1-3; Blake Williamson 1-3; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Michael Danielson (W) (6-2-1-0-0-9); Brian Pieh (S) (1-0-0-0-1-2).

Paynesville - Batting: Alex Naujokas 1-4; Cory Nietfeld 1-3; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) John Hemingson (L) (7-3-2-0-3-2).

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