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Paynesville Press - June 7, 2006

Dogs win fifth straight subsection title

By Michael Jacobson

Senior John Hemingson homered to left in the bottom of the seventh inning, breaking a 3-3 tie and giving the Bulldogs baseball team their fifth straight Subsection 20AA title with a 4-3 victory over Litchfield on Thursday at Howard Lake.

PAHS Baseball Team With the game tied 3-3 and one out in the seventh inning, Hemingson blasted a 1-1 fastball past the light tower in leftfield. Litchfield junior ace pitcher Chris Sundmark threw a fastball that was "right there," according to Hemingson, who said he "was fortunate to have a decent swing at it."

"I hit it, and I was like: 'Maybe it's a homerun,' " said Hemingson, who saw that it was gone by the time he got to first base.

The Bulldogs won their fifth straight Subsection 20AA baseball title on Thursday with a 4-3 victory over Litchfield. Pictured with their trophy are: (front) junior Chuck Mackedanz, senior James Paul, sophomore Brett Savelkoul, junior Tyler Zimmerman, and senior Mark Andrie; (middle) junior Alex Naujokas, senior Trent Hansen, Senior Derek Looman, senior John Hemingson, junior Steve Gerding, and senior Mitchell Mueller; (back) assistant coach Tom Ludwig, senior Ryan Hess, junior Cory Nietfeld, junior Ben Moser, senior Derek Stanger, senior Sean Glenz, junior Sam Bayer, and head coach Brad Skoglund.

The Bulldogs' dugout and fans erupted with the dramatic victory. Hemingson's eight-year-old brother Patrick retrieved the ball from some other kids beyond the fence and gave it to his brother after the game.

Hemingson's hit was clutch, said coach Brad Skoglund. "As soon as he hit it, you knew it was gone."

With the game-winning drive, Hemingson homered in his fourth consecutive game. He leads the team with five homers this season.

His homer ended a back-and-forth game with the Dragons, seeded second in the subsection. The Dogs took an early 2-0 lead but had several more scoring chances squelched by great defense from the Dragons, who dropped from Class AAA to Class AA in baseball this year. Litchfield scored three runs in the top of the fifth to take a brief 3-2 lead, but the Dogs immediately answered in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game 3-3.

Senior James Paul pitched a complete-game victory for the Dogs on a day's rest. After cruising through the first four innings, allowing only one baserunner, a walk, in the third, he tired in the fifth and allowed three runs on a leadoff hit, three straight walks, and a Bulldog error. Litchfield tied the game 2-2 and still had the bases loaded with no outs, but Paul got out of the inning with only one more run scoring on a sacrifice fly.

"He's a competitor," said Skoglund. "He didn't want to come out. He said, 'I want to win this ball game.' "

In the seventh inning, Litchfield got a one-out double and then atwo-out infield single to put runners on first and third with two outs. But Paul struck out the Dragons #3 hitter with a high fastball to escape the inning again.

Paul's strikeout, said Skoglund, gave the Dogs' the momentum again. Hemingson's homer a few minutes later ended the game.

James Paul pitching The Dogs built a 2-0 lead over the first three innings, but they also stranded six baserunners and saw the Dragons turn a terrific double play. After three innings, nine Dogs had reached base - to only one for the Dragons - but the Dogs only led 2-0.

Senior James Paul pitched a complete game in the subsection final against Litchfield on one day's rest. He shutout the Dragons for four innings before allowing three runs in the fifth but battled out of this jam. He also had a key strikeout to strand two runners in the top of the seventh.

The Dogs left the bases loaded in the first inning. They scored their first run on senior Derek Stanger's two-strike double to right-center in the second, scoring senior Ryan Hess who had reached on an infield single. Litchfield's unior shortstop Kent Johnson ended the second inning with a great play deep in the hole to rob senior Trent Hansen of a hit, which would have scored Stanger.

With one on and no outs in the third, Johnson fielded a ball hit up the middle by Paul, flipped it back-handed to second baseman Lucas Johnson, who turned a leaping double play on speedy Hemingson and Paul. The Dogs later scored in that inning after a walk to junior Cory Nietfeld, a single to right by senior Mark Andrie, and a two-out single to left by Hess.

"We had chances to break it open," said Skoglund, "and their infield defense made the plays."

The Dogs also made some key defensive plays. Andrie scooped a low throw at first for the third out in the third inning, preventing a run from scoring, and he tagged out the first Litchfield batter in the top of the seventh after catching an errant throw, with the Dragons later getting two hits in the inning.

Nietfeld made a sliding catch in the fourth inning in rightfield and ran down a long drive in the sixth inning that the Dragons thought was going to be an extra-base hit.

Another key momentum play for the Dogs was scoring in the bottom of the fifth, immediately tying the game 3-3 after the Dragons took a brief 3-2 lead, said Skoglund. "When the other team scores," said Skoglund, "you've got to battle back."

Hemingson reached on an error after Kent Johnson made another tough play in the hole for Litch but his throw was dropped at first. He stole second and drew a throw on Paul's comebacker, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Nietfeld walked for the third time to load the bases with no outs, and Hemingson scored the tying run on another double play turned by the Dragons.

"We played very well. Litchfield played very well," said Skoglund. "It was a great game."

"Great atmosphere," he added, thanking the fans for their support.

The Dogs (17-4) advanced to play in the Section 5AA tournament this week in St. Cloud at Joe Faber Field. On Monday, the games were rained out. The Dogs played Subsection 17AA champ Delano on Tuesday afternoon at 5 p.m.

If the Dogs won, they advance to the Section 5AA finals on Thursday, starting at 5 p.m., needing to win one game to go to state.

If the Dogs lost, they will play the winner between Gibbon-Fairfax- Winthrop and Litchfield on Tuesday at 7 p.m. If they won this game, they advance to the Section 5AA finals on Thursday, needing to beat Delano twice to go to state.

The Class AA state tournament will be held on Thursday, June 15, and Friday, June 16, in St. Cloud.

Litchfield-- 000 030 0 - 34 1
Paynesville-- 011 010 1- 4 7 1

Litchfield - Batting: Blayne Johnson 2-3 R; Lucas Johnson 1-3 2B; Tony Gutormson 1-3 RBI; Pitching:
(ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Tyler Puckett (5-6-3-2-4-2); Chris Sundmark (L) (1.1-1-1-1-0-1).

Paynesville - Batting: John Hemingson 3-3 HR R-2 SB-2; Ryan Hess 2-3 RBI R; Derek Stanger 1-3 2B RBI; Mark Andrie 1-3; Cory Nietfeld 0-0 BB-3 R; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) James Paul (W) (7-4-4-3-4-4).

Paynesville 9, ACGC 0
The top-seeded Bulldogs defeated fourth-seeded ACGC 9-0 in the subsection semifinals at Litchfield on Wednesday, May 31.

The Dogs jumped ahead 2-0 in the first two innings, with junior Alex Naujokas scoring in the first inning and hitting a two-out RBI single in the second.

That was all the offense the Dogs needed as senior John Hemingson pitched a six-hit shutout of the Falcons, striking out ten.

The Dogs added three runs in the fourth on an RBI single by junior Steve Gerding, an RBI triple by senior Derek Stanger, and another RBI single by Naujokas.

In the sixth, the Dogs scored two runs on a double steal and an ACGC error before Hemingson closed the scoring with a two-run homer.

The Dogs had beaten ACGC (11-9) 3-2 in their regular-season finale the week before at PAHS.

Paynesville-- 000 000 0 - 06 2
Paynesville-- 110 304 x- 9 8 1

ACGC - Batting: Josh Cunningham 1-3; Micah Nordin 1-3; Justin Schroeder 1-3; Michael Martin 1-3; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Schroeder (L) (5-7-7-6-5-2); A.J. Fredericksen (1-2-2-1-0-0).

Paynesville - Batting: Alex Naujokas 2-2 RBI-2; R-2 SB-2; Steve Gerding 2-2 R-2 RBI; John Hemingson 1-2 HR RBI-2 BB-2; Derek Stanger 1-2 3B R-2 RBI; Mark Andrie 1-2 R; James Paul 1-4 SB; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Hemingson (W) (7-6-0-0-1-10).

Paynesville 20, Maple Lake 1
The Dogs crushed Maple Lake in their subsection opener at PAHS on Tuesday, May 30, scoring 20 runs in their first three at bats and defeating the Irish 20-1 in five innings by the ten-run rule.

The Dogs jumped to a 5-0 advantage in the bottom of the first and then scored ten runs in the second inning, sending 13 batters to the plate. They added five more runs in the third, leading 20-0 before Maple Lake scored in the top of the fifth.

The Dogs had seven hits and four walks in the second inning alone. (They finished the day with 16 hits.) Senior Trent Hansen, junior Cory Nietfeld, and junior Steve Gerding had RBI singles, while senior Mark Andrie hit a two-run double. Senior Ryan Hess - who earned the pitching win in relief - drew a bases-loaded walk, and senior John Hemingson capped the rally with a three-run homer to left.

Maple Lake-- 000 01x X - 15 4
Paynesville-- 5(10)5 0xx X- 20 16 1

Maple Lake - Batting: Riley Decker 1-3 2B; Pat Gertejansen 1-2 2B R; Jade Kotila 1-2; Ryan Kotila 1-2; Nick DuChene 1-2; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Andrew Fuchs (L) (1.2-11-15-13-3-1); Decker (1.1-4-5-4-2-0); Jade Kotila (1-1-0-0-0-1).

Paynesville - Batting: Trent Hansen 3-3 2B R-4 RBI SB; Mark Andrie 3-3 R-3 RBI-2 SB-2; John Hemingson 3-3 HR R-3 RBI-3 BB-2; Alex Naujokas 2-3 2B R-4 RBI-2 SB-2; Steve Gerding 2-3 R RBI SB-2; Ryan Hess 2-3 R-2 RBI; Cory Nietfeld 1-3 RBI-2 R; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) James Paul (3-2-0-0-0-1); Hess (W) (2-3-1-0-0-0).

Subsection 20AA
Quarterfinals (Tuesday, May 30)
#1 Paynesville 20, #8 Maple Lake 1
#2 Litchfield 8, #7 Kimball 5
#3 NL-S 2, #6 Howard Lake-Waverly 0
#4 ACGC 12, #5 EV-W 0
Semifinals (Wednesday, May 31)
#1 Paynesville 9, #4 ACGC 0
#2 Litchfield 10, #3 NL-S 0
Finals (Thursday, June 1)
#1 Paynesville 4, #2 Litchfield 3

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