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Paynesville Press - May 24, 2006

Dogs claim share of WCC North baseball title

By Michael Jacobson

The Bulldogs clinched a share of the conference title in the West Central Conference North by shutting out Melrose 4-0 on Thursday night in Paynesville.

The Dogs completed a season sweep of the Dutchmen behind senior John Hemingson's four-hit shutout. The Dogs also beat Melrose 15-3 on the road in April.

Ryan Hess led Dogs in hits The win moved the Dogs (10-4 in conference) a half game ahead of Melrose (9-4 at the time) and NL-S (9-4) in the WCC North standings. Melrose then defeated NL-S 7-1 on Saturday to share the conference title with the Dogs while the Wildcats finished a game back.

Last year, the Dogs tied with St. Cloud Cathedral for the conference title at 7-3, with the Dogs sweeping three games in the last week to claim a share of the title. This year, the Dogs rebounded from two losses earlier in the week to beat Melrose and claim a share of the title after leading the conference for most of the season.

Senior Ryan Hess led the Dogs with two hits, including a double, and scored a run as the baseball team beat Melrose 4-0 on Thursday to tie for the conference title with a record of 10-4.

The PAHS players did a great job during the season to win a share of the conference title, said coach Brad Skoglund. "Our conference is so strong," he explained. "It's probably one of the top (Class) AA conferences in the state. And we added Minnewaska and NL-S. That's three of our four losses."

While the Dogs are a different team this year - losing their top two pitchers and 3-4-5 hitters from last year's state title squad - coming off a state title meant added pressure and motivated competition. "We didn't sneak up on anybody this year," said Skoglund. "I'm sure a lot of people had Paynesville circled on their calendars. We faced a lot of team's top pitchers."

The Dogs (12-4 overall) scored a run in the bottom of the second to take a 1-0 lead. Senior James Paul singled, stole second, and scored on a single by senior Ryan Hess.

In the third, the Dogs added two runs as senior Derek Stanger walked, senior Trent Hansen singled, and both scored on a single by Hemingson.

In the fourth, Hess doubled, advanced to third on a single by senior Derek Looman, and scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.

Hemingson, meanwhile, allowed only four hits and one walk in pitching his first career varsity shutout. He struck out five.

He earned his fifth pitching victory of the season, against only one loss.

This week, the Dogs played at Maple Lake on Monday, May 22. They will host ACGC on Thursday, May 25, at 5 p.m. in a make-up game.

On Wednesday, subsection seedings will be decided, with the Dogs expected to get a top seed. They should then host a first-round subsection game next week on Tuesday, May 30, at PAHS at 4:30 p.m.

The subsection semifinals will be held on Wednesday, May 31, and the subsection finals will be held on Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. in Maple Lake.

Melrose-- 000 000 0 - 04 0
Paynesville-- 012 100 x - 4 9 1

Melrose - Batting: Jason Klaphake 1-3; Josh Meyer 1-3; Matt Moorman 1-3; Brad Wiehoff 1-3; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Klaphake (L) (6-9-4-4-2-1).

Paynesville - Batting: Ryan Hess 2-3 2B R RBI; James Paul 1-2 R SB-2; Cory Nietfeld 1-2; Alex Naujokas 1-3; Trent Hansen 1-3 R; Derek Looman 1-3; John Hemingson 1-4 RBI-2; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Hemingson (W) (7-4-0-0-1-5).

NL-S 4, Paynesville 3
The Bulldogs took a brief 3-2 lead with two runs in the top of the fifth, but the New London-Spicer Wildcats answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to sweep their season series with the Dogs with a pair of one-run victories.

The Cats moved into a tie with the Dogs in the conference standings, momentarily dropping the Dogs into second place behind Melrose, with the win.

The bottom of the fifth started with a bad bounce for the Dogs, as senior James Paul struck out the leadoff batter, but the ball hit the plate and bounced over the head of senior catcher John Hemingson, said coach Brad Skoglund.

The Dogs then had a chance to turn a double play, as the next NL-S batter hit a ball to center that bounced off senior centerfielder Trent Hansen's glove during a diving attempt. Hansen made a great effort on the play, said Skoglund, and had he made the catch, the Dogs could have doubled the runner off first.

Instead of two outs with no one on the Dogs faced a two-on, none-out situation, and the Wildcats scored the tying and winning runs on groundouts, sandwiched around another single.

The Dogs had taken a 3-2 lead with two doubles in the top of the fifth. Junior Cory Nietfeld led off with a double and scored on an error to tie the game 2-2. Senior Derek Stanger then hit an RBI double to give the Dogs a 3-2 lead.

The Dogs led 1-0 in the first inning when junior Alex Naujokas singled, stole second, and came around to score, but the Wildcats answered with two unearned runs in the bottom of the first, using three singles and a Paynesville error to score two runs.

The Wildcats also handed the Dogs their first loss of the year, 2-1 in April. In their two losses to NL-S this year, the Dogs allowed five unearned runs (with NL-S scoring six in all). Last year, the Dogs beat the Cats three times, including in the subsection and section finals.

Paynesville-- 100 020 0 - 35 2
NL-S-- 200 020 x - 4 6 1

Paynesville - Batting: Cory Nietfeld 2-3 2B R; Derek Stanger 1-2 2B RBI; John Hemingson 1-3 2B; Alex Naujokas 1-3 R SB; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) James Paul (L) (6-6-4-1-1-3).

New London-Spicer - Batting: Jacob Reiter 2-3 R; Mike Danielson 1-3 R; Blake Williamson 1-3 RBI; Wade Wessling 1-3; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Danielson (W) (7-5-3-2-1-10).

Sauk Centre 7, Paynesville 0
Junior Zach Weller pitched a no-hitter as Sauk Centre shut out the Bulldogs 7-0 in a WCC North game in Sauk Centre on Monday, May 15.

Weller allowed only three baserunners for the Dogs - one each in the first three innings. Junior Alex Naujokas reached base twice by walks and junior Chuck Mackedanz reached on an error.

Weller retired the last 13 Bulldog batters, retiring the Dogs 1-2-3 in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. "He threw well," said coach Brad Skoglund. "He kept the ball down and changed speeds. We hit a couple balls hard right at them."

The Mainstreeters took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second with five straight singles. They added two more in the fourth before the Dogs turned an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play from senior Derek Stanger at third to Mackedanz for the relay at second to senior Mark Andrie at first. Sauk added an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Paynesville-- 000 000 0 - 00 3
Sauk Centre-- 040 201 x - 7 9 1

Paynesville - Batting: Alex Naujokas 0-1 BB-2 SB; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Ryan Hess (L) (6-9-7-6-3-3).

Sauk Centre - Batting: Jake Uphus 3-3 RBI-2; Jake Berling 2-2 R-3; Isaac Uphus 1-2 R-2 RBI; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Zach Weller (W) (7-0-0-0-2-3).

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