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Paynesville Press - August 29, 2001

Lakers eliminated in 11 innings

By Michael Jacobson

Chad Spanier slides home A thrilling baseball game became a heart-breaking loss with a whimper.

After watching Lake Henry and Blue Earth combine for 37 hits in a second-round game at the state amateur Class C tournament, the boisterous Laker fans - driven to a frenzy when their team was within one strike of victory in the bottom of the tenth - were silenced when a balk brought home the winning run for Blue Earth in the bottom of the 11th.

Blue Earth eliminated Lake Henry 10-9 in 11 innings in a three-hour marathon at Miesville on Saturday afternoon.

Chad Spanier slides towards the plate and scores the Lakers' second run in the top of the thenth inning. Spanier scored on draftee catcher Jake Thelen's sacrifice fly to right.

A bad hop let the Blue Earth leadoff hitter reach base to start the 11th. After a strikeout, Blue Earth player/manager John Stallman hit a soft liner to left that put runners on the corners with one out.

Laker pitcher Roger Wuertz turned toward first on a pickoff move but didn't throw the ball. After the Blue Earth side yelled, the home plate umpire called the balk, allowing the winning run to score from third.

The seesaw contest featured six lead changes and three ties. Both teams were within a strike of victory, but watched the other team rally to tie.

Blue Earth - after scoring an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 7-6 lead - had two outs and two strikes in the top of the ninth, but the Lakers' Doug Fuchs grounded a single through the hole into left and Jon Lieser followed with a double off the fence in left-centerfield to score Adam Miller, who was running for Fuchs, and tie the score.

After Weurtz set down Blue Earth 1-2-3 in the ninth, the Lakers scored two runs in the top of the tenth. Jeff Olmscheid led off with a bloop single over the first baseman's head. On Chad Spanier's bunt, Blue Earth's catcher sailed his throw over the first baseman's head again and down the rightfield line, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

Ryan Wuertz - who had four hits for the Lakers - grounded a single through a drawn-in infield to score the go-ahead run, and Jake Thelen - a draftee catcher from St. Martin - hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Spanier for a two-run lead.

Wuertz retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth, as the Laker faithful clapped, cheered, and rattled the bleachers. Wuertz had two strikes on Joe Fering, Blue Earth's catcher, but couldn't put him away as Fering fouled off a half dozen pitcher's pitches before hitting a seeing-eye grounder deep into the hole. Fuchs fielded it from his shortstop position but had no chance to throw Fering out at first.

Dominic Schultz - who started and pitched nine innings for Blue Earth - followed with a two-run homer to left to knot the score again at 9-9. After the Lakers were retired 1-2-3 in the top of the 11th, Blue Earth scored the winning run.

Lakers cheer The Lakers opened the scoring in the top of the first when Ryan Wuertz doubled with two outs and scored on Jeff Schmitz's single. But Blue Earth scored two runs in the bottom of the first on five singles. It could have been more, but Ken Arceneau - a draftee pitcher from St. Martin - left the bases loaded by striking out two batters to end the inning.

After Blue Earth added a run in the second, the Lakers scored one in the third. Schmitz led off with a double and scored on Mike Stalboerger's single. Both Schmitz and Stalboerger had three hits for Lake Henry.

The Lakers took a 6-3 lead in the fifth. A single and two errors loaded the bases, and Stalboerger cleared them by hitting a grand slam homer to left-center.

Blue Earth tied the score with a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.

The Lakers stranded 12 runners and also made four outs on the bases. They had a runner thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch in the first inning, another thrown out stealing to end the fourth, another thrown out trying to get to third on a single to right in the fifth, and another trying to advance to third in the ninth.

The Lakers ended their season in the final 16 in state. Blue Earth advanced to the double elimination portion of the Class C tournament, which started on Sunday.

The Lakers finished the season with a record of 15-6. The Lakers have made seven trips to state: 1959, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975, 2000, and 2001.

Blue Earth lost 5-4 to St. Patrick on Sunday, but stays alive with one loss in the double elimination round at state.

Lake Henry 101 040 001 20 - 9 18 2
Blue Earth 210 030 010 21 - 10 19 5

Lake Henry - Batting: Ryan Wuertz 4-6 2B RBI R; Mike Stalboerger 3-6 HR RBI-5; Jeff Schmitz 3-6 2B R-2 RBI; Jon Lieser 2-6 2B RBI; Chad Spanier 2-6 R; Jeff Olmscheid 1-1; Ryan Nett 1-1; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Ken Arceneau (5-11-6-6-1-5); Nett (3-4-1-0-1-1); Roger Wuertz (L) (2.1-4-3-2-0-3).

Blue Earth - Batting: T.J. Schmidtke 4-6 RBI; Dominic Schultz 3-5 HR R-2 RBI-3; Joe Fering 3-6 R-2 RBI; Tyler Dessen 2-6 R-2; Jake Frey 1-5 HR RBI-3 R-2; John Stallman 1-1; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Schultz (9-16-7-5-1-8); Rob Bric (W) (2-2-2-1-0-2).

State tournament notes
*Watkins advanced to the semifinals by beating Princeton 9-4 on Saturday and Sobieski 5-4 on Sunday. Watkins plays Wolf Lake on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Red Wing.

*Sauk Centre lost 12-2 to St. Francis on Saturday and was eliminated.

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