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|Paynesville Press - June 15, 2005|
Bulldogs advance to state
The Bulldogs baseball team won the Section 5AA title last week, defeating Belle Plaine 15-6 on Monday, June 6, and New London-Spicer 8-4 on Thursday, June 9, at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud.|
The Dogs will advance to state for the second time in school history this week. The Class AA state tournament also will be held in St. Cloud at Dick Putz Field and Joe Faber Field at the Metropolitan Athletic Complex.
The Dogs will play conference-rival Albany (the Section 6AA champs) on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at Dick Putz Field. The Dogs will be making their first state appearance since 2002, when they finished fifth. Albany is also making its second state appearance in baseball, its first since 1970.
Pictured with their championship trophy are: (front) Jamie Paul, John Hemingson, manager Matt Bayer, Trent Hansen, Alex Naujokas, and Mitch Mueller; (second row) Chuck Mackedanz, Ryan Hess, Derek Stanger, Derek Looman, Ben Moser, Mark Andrie, and Cory Nietfeld; (third row) Brandon Berg, Justin Butkofski, Mitch Callenius, Chris Beier, and Mike Mueller; (back) assistant coach Dick Realdsen, head coach Brad Skoglund, assistant coach Darin Carstens, and assistant coach Tom Ludwig.
The Bulldogs (18-6) completed an undefeated sweep through the subsection and section tourneys last week. They defeated NL-S 11-0 on Thursday, June 2, for their fourth straight subsection title and then beat the Wildcats again 8-4 for the section title last Thursday.
Coach Brad Skoglund praised the "total team effort" - everything from hot hitting and strong pitching to a supportive bench and great fans - in the Dogs' playoff run. But the most important factor was the Dogs' resiliency. "The key thing was when the other team scored, we answered back," said Skoglund. "Baseball, like all sports, is a game of momentum."
In the section final against NL-S, the Wildcats took a 3-0 lead in the second inning on five hits (including a couple seeing-eye grounders) and a Bulldog error. But the Dogs got out of the inning when senior leftfielder Mike Mueller hit the cutoff (senior Justin Butkofski) who threw to junior third baseman Derek Stanger to tag out a Wildcat baserunner trying to get back to third for the second out. Then senior pitcher Chris Beier and junior shortstop Jamie Paul picked off another Wildcat runner at second to end the scoring threat.
In the bottom of the second, Beier led off with a double to right-center. Junior catcher John Hemingson followed with an RBI single up the middle. After two outs, the Cats committed an error to put runners on first and third, and then threw the ball into centerfield on a steal attempt to allow a second run to score. Paul hit an infield single, and junior Trent Hansen delivered a two-out RBI single to right to tie the score at 3-3.
Junior second baseman Ryan Hess dived to stop a groundball in the second inning but the infield hit helped NL-S score three runs on Thursday.
NL-S scored again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff single around to score on a two-out base hit to take a 4-3 lead, but again the Dogs answered quickly. Mueller led off the bottom of the fourth with a drive to right-center that the NL-S centerfielder charged but missed. With the ball rolling to the fence, Mueller circled the bases for an inside-the-park homerun, tying the game 4-4.
After the third inning, Beier threw four shutout innings for the Dogs. He pitched 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth and allowed just one hit in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Beier pitched all 14 innings for the Dogs in the section playoffs. Skoglund said deciding to start Beier on Thursday on two days rest (after pitching a complete game on Monday) was tough, but he wanted to start his two seniors (Butkofski would have pitched the second game if needed). Rather than forcing Beier to play in the field first, Skoglund figured he would start him on the mound right away.
Beier told Skoglund before the game that he thought he could go five innings, but he seemed to find his groove as the game progressed. He needed only six pitches in the fifth, 11 in the sixth, and ten in the seventh. The Wildcats are a good hitting team, noted Skoglund, with the Dogs striking out only one NL-S batter in two playoff games.
Senior Chris Beier pitched two straight complete games - all 14 innings - for the Dogs in the section tourney last week. The Dogs enter the state tourney this week having won 10 of their last 11 games.
The Dogs took the lead with three runs in the fourth inning. Paul walked, Hansen singled to third, and Mueller plated them both with a two-run double down the right-field line. After a walk and a force out, putting runners on the corners with two outs, the Dogs scored a third run when Hemingson left early from first, causing the NL-S pitcher to balk. "That was pleasing from a coaching aspect because from the first practice in March we work on baserunning," said Skoglund.
The Dogs added another run in the fifth inning, to make it 8-4, on an error and an RBI single by Paul.
Reaching state has been a goal of the team, according to Beier. "We wanted to (go to state) all year. We were hoping (to go to state). Now that we're going we're all glad," he said. "Hopefully, we can make something out of it."
The Class AA state tournament starts on Thursday in St. Cloud. The Dogs have split with Albany this season, beating the Huskies 9-6 in April at home and losing 7-4 in May on the road. The Huskies (17-8) finished tied for third in the WCC North this year at 5-5. The Dogs tied with Cathedral for the conference title at 7-3.
In the playoffs, however, the Huskies beat Cathedral 12-0 and 3-1 to eliminate the Crusaders and advance to state. (Cathedral had swept their regular-season series with Albany, winning 2-0 and 2-1.) Albany has a great baseball program, said Skoglund. "Anytime you can beat St. Cloud Cathedral twice in the playoffs you've got to be doing something right," he added.
Other teams in the Class AA field are Hermantown, Holy Family Catholic, Kasson-Mantorville, Pipe-stone, St. Charles, and Warroad.
After playing Albany at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Dogs will play either Hermantown or Holy Family Catholic in the second round at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. If they win against Albany, they will play again at Dick Putz Field at 5:30 p.m.; if they lose, they will play at Joe Faber Field at 5:30 p.m. in the consolation bracket.
The state tournament will conclude on Friday at Dick Putz Field with the consolation game at 12 noon, the third-place game at 2:30 p.m., and the championship game at 5:30 p.m.
New London-Spicer - Batting: Wade Wessling 2-3 2B R; Adam Luberts 2-3 RBI; Mike Danielson 1-3 R RBI; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Ben Kulset (3-7-4-2-1-2); Brian Pieh (L) (1.1-3-4-2-2-1); Kevin Krupke (1.2-2-0-0-0-1).
After Belle Plaine scored three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 6-3 lead, the Dogs responded by scoring three runs with the lights out in the bottom of the fifth. Then, after a short delay to allow the lights to come back on, the Dogs erupted for nine runs in the bottom of the sixth to win 15-6.
The power went out briefly in the top of the fifth, right after Belle Plaine took a 4-3 lead on an RBI single. The power loss caused the lights to go dark, but in the evening light, the Tigers got a two-out, two-run double to take a 6-3 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, still with the lights out, Belle Plaine committed a two-out error. Senior Mike Mueller followed with a single to left, and senior Chris Beier then hit a two-run double to right-center. Belle Plaine committed another error to allow Beier to score, and then the game was delayed to wait for the lights to turn back on.
The Tigers grabbed a liner with the lights back on to end the fifth inning, but the Dogs kept their bats working in sixth inning. After Beier retired Belle Plaine 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth, junior Mark Andrie led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. After a Belle Plaine error, junior Jamie Paul grounded a single to left to score the go-ahead run. Junior Trent Hansen followed with an RBI single.
Junior John Hemingson later added a two-run single, junior Derek Stanger added a two-run double to left, and senior Mitch Callenius hit a pinch-hit RBI double to right-center.
The Bulldogs enter the state tournament with a .340 batting average as a team, noted Skoglund, who said he was pleased with the way the team hit in the section playoffs.
The Dogs had taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second against Belle Plaine. Beier and Hemingson singled, and junior Derek Stanger grounded an RBI single to right. A second run scored on the play due to error.
Belle Plaine scored three runs in the top of the third to take a brief 3-2 lead, but the Dogs tied the game in the bottom of the third. Junior Trent Hansen doubled to lead off the inning, and Beier hit a two-out RBI single to tie the game at 3-3.
Every time the Dogs allowed runs in the section tournament, they scored in the bottom of that inning. Every time their opponent took the lead in the section tournament, the Dogs either tied or retook the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Belle Plaine - Batting: Paul Dressen 2-3 2B R-2 RBI; Peter Schuneman 2-4 R RBI; Matt Schultz 1-2 R; Corey Schaaf 1-3 2B RBI-2; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Brad Lawson (L) (5-11-10-3-0-3); Mike Wagner (0.1-2-4-3-1-0); Jerrison (0.2-1-1-1-0-0).
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