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Paynesville Press - May 26, 2004

Dogs tie for WCC North baseball title

By Michael Jacobson

The Bulldogs clinched a tie for the West Central Conference North baseball title last week, despite losing three conference games.

John Hemingson The Dogs were shut out by Melrose on Monday, May 17, ending their 14-game winning streak, and then they lost in extra innings to LPGE on Tuesday, May 18, and to Sauk Centre on Thursday, May 20.

The Dogs (6-4 in the WCC North) are tied with Melrose for the title, with Sauk Centre still having a chance to tie for the title, too.

The WCC North started with five teams ranked in the top 13 in the state in Class AA.

Sophomore catcher John Hemingson - chasing a pop foul in vain - led the Dogs with three hits in their extra-inning loss to Sauk on Thursday.

The Bulldogs finished second in the WCC North last year, also with a conference record of 6-4. The Dogs won the conference in 2000, when they were 11-1 in the WCC North to win the title outright.

The Dogs (15-4) hosted Minne-waska on Tuesday. They do not play again until they start subsection playoffs on Tuesday, June 1. The Dogs, seeded #1 in the subsection, will host #8 Kimball at 4:30 p.m.

The subsection semifinals will be held at Maple Lake on Wednesday, June 2, at 5 p.m. Paynesville would play either #4 Maple Lake or #5 Annandale. The subsection finals will be held on Thursday, June 3, starting at 7:30 p.m., also at Maple Lake. Favorites on the other half of the bracket are #2 ACGC and #3 Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.

Sauk Centre 5, Paynesville 4
Sauk Centre rallied to send the game to extra innings and then beat the Bulldogs in 12 innings on Thursday at Sauk.

The Bulldogs could have clinched the outright conference title with a victory, but the state-rated Streeters kept their conference title hopes alive with the 5-4 victory.

Casey Poepping singled home the winning run in the 12th inning, delivering a bases-loaded hit. Sauk had loaded the bases on two Paynes-ville errors and a walk.

The Bulldogs had taken a 4-0 lead over the first three innings. They scored an unearned run in the first inning, sophomore Jamie Paul hit an RBI single in the second, and senior Adam Hemmesch hit a two-run homer in the third.

Senior Adam Kampsen appeared to be cruising, striking out six in the first three innings, before Sauk got back-to-back two-out RBI singles in the fourth inning. That rally changed the game's momentum, said coach Brad Skoglund. Sauk scored two more runs in the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-4.

Kampsen pitched 11 innings for the Dogs, striking out 14. But Sauk's Josh Thieschafer pitched nine scoreless innings in relief for the Mainstreeters.

"It was a heckuva ball game," said Skoglund, still confident in his team as playoffs approach. "We've lost three straight games, but you've got to give credit to the other teams. They've all brought their 'A' games."

Paynesville-- 112 000 000 000 - 411 3
Sauk Centre-- 000 220 000 001 - 5 11 2

Paynesville - Batting: John Hemingson 3-5; Justin Butkofski 2-5 R; Adam Hemmesch 1-5 HR RBI-2; Chris Beier 1-4 SB-2; Jamie Paul 1-6 RBI; Adam Kampsen 1-6; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Kampsen (11-8-4-3-0-14); Paul (L) (0.1-1-1-0-1-0).

Sauk Centre - Batting: Casey Poepping 3-6 RBI-2 R; Dustin Meyer 3-6 R; Ethan Vogt 2-4 R-2; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Meyer (2.1-7-4-3-0-2); Josh Thieschafer (W) (9.2-4-0-0-0-4).

LPGE 4, Paynesville 1
LPGE scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie and beating the Bulldogs on Tuesday, May 18. It was the Dogs' first home loss of the season.

The Dogs, despite the loss, clinched at least a tie for the conference title that day, though, as Sauk Centre rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh and beat second-place Melrose 7-6.

LPGE's Chris Kern homered twice, in the fourth inning to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead and then to lead off the eighth inning to retake the lead. The Thunder added two more runs in the eighth inning on four singles and a Paynesville error.

The Bulldogs had sent the game to extra innings by scoring a run in the sixth inning, with junior Justin Butkofski delivering an RBI single.

Butkofski also pitched for the Dogs. He kept the Dogs in the game and gave them a chance to win, according to coach Brad Skoglund.

The Bulldogs, however, could not get enough clutch hits. They stranded eight baserunners, including six in scoring position.

Skoglund was disappointed in the team's baserunning, as the Dogs made two outs on the bases during potential rallies.

LPGE-- 000 100 03 - 49 3
Paynesville-- 000 001 00 - 1 5 2

LPGE - Batting: Chris Kern 3-4 HR-2; Brandon Bellsher 2-4 R; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Kern (W) (8-5-1-1-2-6).

Paynesville - Batting: John Hemingson 2-3; Adam Kampsen 1-4 2B; Justin Butkofski 1-4 RBI; Chris Beier 1-4; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Butkofski (L) (7.2-7-4-3-3-7); Jamie Paul (0.1-2-0-0-0-0).

Melrose 3, Paynesville 0
The Dutchmen ended the Dogs' 14-game winning streak by shutting out the Bulldogs in Melrose on Monday, May 17.

Senior Ross Uphoff pitched the shutout for Melrose, which moved within a game in the conference race by beating the Bulldogs.

Melrose broke a scoreless tie with two unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth, plating two runs without a hit thanks to two Paynesville errors. They added another run in the bottom of the sixth.

Junior Chris Beier pitched for the Dogs. He kept them in the game with a strong effort, said Skoglund, but the Dogs were not able to muster any offense. The Dogs stranded seven baserunners in the game, including five in scoring position.

"We faced some good pitching, but we haven't hit the ball well," said Skoglund of the back-to-back losses to LPGE and Melrose. "We came into the week hiting .341 as a team with eight guys over .300, but we couldn't hit water if we fell out of a boat right now."

Paynesville-- 000 000 0 - 010 0
Melrose-- 000 021 x - 3 5 1

Paynesville - Batting: Butkofski 1-3 2B; Brandon Berg 1-2; Kampsen 1-3; Adam Hemmesch 1-3; Hemingson 1-3; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Beier (L) (6-5-3-1-4-2).

Melrose - Batting: Nick Stangler 3-3; Ben Rueter 1-2 R; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Ross Uphoff (W) (7-5-0-0-0-2).

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