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Paynesville Press - June 12, 2002

Bulldogs baseball team faces Blue Earth Area on Thursday

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Bulldogs (13-12) will play Blue Earth Area in the first round of the State Class AA Baseball Tournament at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Joe Faber Field at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud. The Bulldogs will be making their first-ever appearance in the state baseball tournament.

Blue Earth Area (20-4) took third last year at state, but Paynesville can be confident, having handed St. Cloud Cathedral (19-7), the defending state champion, a 5-4 loss this year.

Paynesville's record might not dazzle like some of the other state teams, but it is the result of playing in a conference with three state-rated teams: Cathedral, Melrose, and Sauk Centre. All three advanced to the Section 6AA tournament last week, where Cathedral beat Melrose in the finals.

The Bulldogs were 2-10 in the West Central Conference North and finished dead last. That they could then win their subsection and section "shows you how tough our conference is," said head coach Brad Skoglund. "Our conference, from top to bottom, was as strong as I've ever seen it this year," he continued. "That, without a doubt, has helped us in the playoffs."

Paynesville has gone 11-2 outside of conference play, including winning seven of its last eight games. If the team keeps playing good defense and getting timely hitting, it can win state, said Skoglund, especially since the team has already beaten the favorite, St. Cloud Cathedral.

The Bulldogs should only worry about themselves and playing good baseball, warned Skoglund. "All the teams are going to be good at state," he said. "We've just got to be better for two hours."

One thing in Paynesville's favor, according to Skoglund, is having three strong pitchers ­ senior Jeremy Fuchs, junior Josh Kampsen, and sophomore Adam Kampsen ­ which could prove advantageous for the Bulldogs in the two-day state tournament.

The Bulldogs' lineup has been unsettled all year due to injuries, ejections, and suspensions. Skoglund said the team had its projected starting lineup for only two of its first 20 games.

Josh Kampsen, for one, is confident about the Bulldogs' chances at state, noting that the team has a lot of good players. "Now we've got our lineup straight," he said. "I'm not afraid. I think we can win state, too."

State Schedule

The Bulldogs will play their first game at state at 10 a.m. on Thursday against Blue Earth at Joe Faber Field again at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud.

Win or lose, they will play again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, against either Jackson County Central or St. Anthony Village. If they win against Blue Earth Area, they will play at 3 p.m. at Dick Putz Field, also at the MAC. If they lose, they will play again on Joe Faber Field.

On Friday, the consolation final is at 12 p.m., the third-place game is at 2:30 p.m., and the championship game is at 6 p.m., all at Dick Putz.


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