CJ’s Blog [Updated 8/25, 2 p.m.]

Posted on Aug. 15, 2013 by CJ Siewert

* First weekend blog at bottom. Second weekend at top with most recent posts in descending order.

SECOND WEEKEND

Friday, Aug. 23

7:30 p.m. – Back up in Maple Lake and got here during the sixth inning of the Jordan vs. Bertha game. Didn’t miss anything at that point as it was a scoreless game. That quickly changed when Jordan scored four runs in the eighth. Betha answered with one in the bottom half, but the Brewers took a 5-1 lead in the ninth and that remained the final.

Mitch Bockenstedt was on point, pitching eight innings with one run on seven hits and 14 strikeouts.

Patrick Riewer took the loss for Berha after seven and one-third innings. He allowed four earned on seven hits with 12 Ks and three walks.

Admittedly, I picked Bertha over my River Valley League rivals. Not to be a “traitor” of the league, but maybe still a little hurt over ending our season to the Brewers. I guess they can credit St. Peter for starting their current five-game win streak – all of which being elimination games. Either way, happy to see some RVL representation for championship weekend.

Over in Delano, New Prague made a statement win, 12-1, over the Plato Bluejays. A seven-run seventh inning was all the Orioles needed to advance.

That lines up Jordan and New Prague next Saturday in Delano. First pitch between the neighboring league rivals (DRS-RVL) is 7:30 p.m.

Now we are waiting for the hometown Maple Lake Lakers to take on the Watkins Clippers. About 15 minutes from game time and this is already the largest crowd at Irish Stadium for obvious reasons.

I’ll have more later tonight after the last two games. Over in Delano, the nightcap is Luverne and Midway. 

11:30 p.m. – I’m back at the hotel loading pictures and obviously updating this blog, but apparently prematurely. I guess I owe the Maple Lake Lakers the infamous “shoe beer” after their next game since I ducked out too early. I figured it would’ve been ushered to the press box for me in a golden shoe, Michael Johnson ’96 Atlanta Olympics style, but that will have to wait until next Saturday after their bout with Luverne.

Back to baseball…

In the first game at Maple Lake, Jordan picked up a 5-1 victory over Bertha. Mitch Bockenstedt tossed eight solid innings for the Brewers with one run on seven hits and had 14 strikeouts.

Veteran Scott Hollingsworth led the Brewers at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and stolen base. He also made sure to poke fun at me late in the game for picking Bertha to beat them.

For Bertha, Patrick Riewer wasn’t all the bad on the mound either, lasting seven and one-third innings with 12 Ks. But the four earned runs were enough for the loss.

Over in Delano, New Prague took care of Plato 12-1 and in the nightcap, Luverne ended 2010 Class C champ Midway’s season by a score of 4-0. Brian Beuning shut down the Snurdbird bats to the tune of three hits in the complete game shutout. He struck out half the batters he faced (17 of 34).

The marquee game of the night, of course, was the hometown Lakers’ 9-2 win over Watkins. The official attendance for the night was 1,003 at Maple Lake and 554 at Delano for a total of 1,557. An official at Maple Lake told me that he had never seen Irish Stadium that full in his lifetime. The grandstand was packed, the sideline bleachers were packed and the fence lines all the way down to the foul poles were packed.

The bullpens for each team are located on those fence lines and every time a pitcher warmed up, about 50 people had to find a new spot to watch the game or just wait until the bullpen session was over.

The atmosphere was great and hopefully that’s a good omen for the rest of the weekend.

We’re back at it tomorrow. I think I’ll be in Delano taking stats. 

Saturday, Aug. 24

4 p.m. – History was just made. Mike Adelman, a draftee from Clinton, threw the 20th no-hitter in State Tournament history. Adelman faced 30 batters, with one walk, five strikeouts and three hit-by-pitches. His defense played just as well fielding ground ball after ground ball, while chasing down many line drives. Two errors were committed, but nothing ever came of them. Lamberton was never able to adjust to the “junk baller” and all of his off-speed pitches kept the bats quiet.

The moment Dumont fielded the final out of the game at third base exemplified what town team baseball is all about. A 43-year-old (sorry if I got that wrong, Mike) draftee who’s seen many years on the mound, pitches a no-hitter for a regular season rival. Adelman jumped off the mound and the dog-pile from his postseason teammates commenced.

Congrats, Mike, that was fun to watch.

Over in Howard Lake for the Class B teams, reigning champ Victoria was defeated 7-2 by Eagan and last year’s runner-up Cold Spring beat Moorhead 3-0.

The other Class C games in Maple Lake ended in favor of Green Isle (9-0 over Morris) and Fergus Falls (9-1 over Union Hill). The first game in Delano was a 6-0 victory for Sartell over Lake Crystal.

This will probably be the last post until I get back to the hotel tonight. I’ll have much more to write at that time. 

11 p.m. – Day two of the second weekend is a wrap. My game predictions are crap. So far, I’m 7-for-12 on correctly guessing winners for Class C.

The winners I got right: Howard Lake, Green Isle, Avon, Luverne, Maple Lake, Sobieski and Fergus Falls.

The winners I got wrong: Belle Plaine, New Prague, Jordan, Sartell and Dumont.

I guess I was wrong to second-guess my fellow River Valley League teams. The RVL Central division is proving its dominance once again.

After tonight, 12 of 16 possible teams have punched their ticket to championship weekend, where the last team standing will have to win four games in three days. Pitching will no doubt be of paramount importance.

Leagues that are represented in the final 16 so far are the RVL (Belle Plaine, Jordan), Victory (Avon, Sobieski), North Star (Maple Lake, Howard Lake), Countryside (Fergus Falls), Crow River Valley (Green Isle), Dakota Rice Scott (New Prague), Gopher (Luverne), Land O’ Ducks (Dumont) and Sauk Valley (Sartell).

The Class B State tourney started today in Howard Lake. The four winners were Eagan (7-2 over Victoria), Cold Spring (3-0 over Moorhead), Shakopee (4-2 over Austin) and Savage (2-1 over St. Michael). The B teams have four more games tomorrow in Maple Lake, while four Class C games will be played at Delano.

That’s all I got for tonight. Back at it tomorrow. 

Sunday, Aug. 25

2 p.m. – In Delano again today to take in the final day of the second weekend for Class C. Winsted edged Waseca 5-4 in a lengthy game.

Winsted took an early 2-0 lead after the top of the second before Waseca scored a run in the bottom half. Waseca then tied the game at two apiece in the fourth and took the lead 3-2 in the sixth, ending Tony Kley’s day on the hill.

The momentum swung back in favor of the Wildcats after they put up three runs in the seventh for a 5-3 advantage. That score remained until the bottom of the ninth. Waseca started the frame with a leadoff double and a wild pitch moved the runner to third. And then the tying run stepped to the plate – 71-year-old Tink Larson.

Yes, that’s right. Tink stepped into the box as a pinch hitter, took one practice swing and then exited the game with what appeared to be a hip injury. And for anybody who scuffs at somebody wanting to get his name in the scorebook at the State tourney, give me a break. Especially in this scenario. Tink has done more than enough for town team baseball in Minnesota and deserves all the recognition he gets.

After Tink exited the game and resumed his post as first base coach, a run was scored and Waseca spiked some feelings of anxiety for Winsted. Another hit moved the tying run into scoring position with the game-winner on first, but Ben Smothers, a draftee from Waconia, got the final out.

Over in Maple Lake, Austin trounced St. Michael 10-3. Joe Huffman had a perfect game through five innings, but a walk in the sixth ended that. He still had the no-hit bid going into the seventh with a 10-0 lead and only needed three outs for a final score, but a double ended that.

Now we are waiting for a delayed start to the Fairmont vs. New Market game. This should be a great matchup. Shaun McGuire on the hill for Fairmont and Derek Bergstrom for New Market.

More thoughts later today…

FIRST WEEKEND

Guess who’s back, back again? CJ’s back, tell a friend.

Okay, that might be lame and it definitely does not have the same lyrical genius as Marshall Mathers, but it is true … CJ’s Blog is back for the 2013 State Tournament.

Now in my second year covering the fall classic, my aim is to provide you an inside look at State from my personal experiences at Maple Lake and Delano – and possibly Howard Lake if I can find the time.

I’ll try to post a new entry a few times each day throughout the tourney, so check back often to see how it’s going. I’ll keep each entry in the same article, but will change the title with the most recent update’s time [Updated 8/15: 10:15 p.m.] so that you’ll know when a new entry has been posted.

For all you social media frequenters, the MBA Twitter account @MinnBaseball will be a non-stop resource for all things State tourney related (updates, scores, etc.). I’ll also have my personal Twitter account @CJsiewert alive and well to offer my own opinions (how pitchers are looking, teams that look prepared or overmatched, best food at the concessions).

If any of you saw the thousands (literally) of pictures from last year’s tourney on the MBA Facebook page, that will not change. So for all you newspaper and media outlets, if you need a pic just give me a shout.

If you have questions, comments or just want to talk baseball, I’ll be trolling the fields for the next three weekends. I can be reached via email at siewertc@csp.edu or by phone (text, too) at 507-779-4135.

Good luck to all the teams, “And we’ll see ya tomorrow night!”

Thursday, August 15

10:15 p.m. – Well, it’s the night before State so I’m trying to get everything prepared for a hectic three weeks. Class C games start at 5 p.m. tomorrow, but I won’t be there until the end of those games or the start of the 7:30 p.m. games. I recently accepted a job offer as a reporter for the Le Sueur News-Herald and have to cover another state tourney – the Senior Men’s Amateur Baseball (over-35) – as the Le Sueur-Henderson Legends take on the Edina Grays in St. Peter.

After that game, though, I’ll jet up to Maple Lake and hope to catch the game between Bluffton and Hutchinson. I know next to nothing about Bluffton other than who they beat to get here, but I’m really intrigued by the fact that Hutch will be sending 45-year-old Kyle Messner to the mound for his remarkable 22nd State Tournament appearance as a player.

After the first four games wrap up Friday night, I’ll have full details for you right here.

So consider this the calm before the storm. This will be my last post until tomorrow night, but once we get rolling, we’ll hit it hard. 

Friday, August 16

11:05 p.m. – Just checked in at the hotel in Buffalo. After covering a Senior Men’s Amateur State tourney game in St. Peter this afternoon, I got up to Maple Lake during the third inning of the Bluffton vs. Hutchinson game.

45-year-old pitcher Kyle Messner tossed a good game for Hutch, but the Bluffton bats got to him and the Huskie defense in the seventh inning for three runs and a 5-1 lead. Messner pitched six innings in his 22nd State tourney appearance as a player.

Messner’s counterpart, Gunner Johnson, a draftee from Nimrod, lived up to his name and blew it by the Hutch bats for 10 Ks in a complete game gem. Hutch made it interesting with two runs in the ninth, but Johnson shut it down for the 5-3 win.

I can’t say anything on my own behalf about the other three Class C games today because I wasn’t there to see it, but here’s what I heard from the usual sources:

Avon shutout Richmond 3-0 behind six innings from ace Kyle Collins and three innings of relief from Freeport draftee Josh Vorpahl.

St. Benedict won its first ever State game, 3-2, over Owatonna. The Saints never trailed in the game as Tanner Oakes pitched a complete game, allowing just four hits. Owatonna starter Dalton Homeier suffered his first loss of the season.

Clear Lake topped Wilmont 6-5. Wimont out-hit Clear Lake 13-to-8, but also committed four errors compared to Clear Lake’s zero.

Now I’m just waiting on the Class B Super Section to wrap up in Moorhead. The first game between Moorhead and Isanti went 15 innings in favor of Moorhead, 8-7, so Shakopee vs. Champlin is going to be a late one. That bracket will be updated on the Class B State tourney page as soon as its final. The other three brackets are current. 

That’s it for opening night. We’ll have a full slate of eight games between the Maple Lake and Delano sites tomorrow. Be sure to check out the MBA Facebook page tomorrow for boat-loads of pictures. Twitter will be busy as usual. See ya tomorrow.

Saturday, August 17

10:35 a.m. – Got a hearty breakfast in and sat down with Board member Fred Roufs to chat about last night’s games. I didn’t catch word last night, but it was brought to my attention that a manager and player for Coon Rapids have been suspended for the remainder of Super Sections for being ejected in their game against Victoria. Not sure about the specifics, but I’m sure it was the typical chirp from one side answered by a chirp from the other followed by a bean-ball to the helmet. For some teams, it doesn’t take much to get the tempers flaring and that’s somewhat expected this time of year.

Moving on to today’s schedule, I plan on being in Delano at 1 p.m. to watch last year’s runner-up Fairmont take on the New Ulm Brewers. After that, I’ll spend the rest of the day in Maple Lake to watch perennial State tourney attendee Blue Earth take on Winsted at 4 p.m. and then cap the night with my “native” hometown Sleepy Eye Indians against Green Isle, who made it to the “final four” last year.

Be sure to check out the MBA Facebook page later in the day for tons of pictures. 

4:30 p.m. – Back at Maple Lake for the rest of the night after watching last year’s runner-up Fairmont defeat the New Ulm Brewers 6-1 in Delano. Shaun McGuire tossed a complete game for the Martins. Nothing overpowering from McGuire and he pitches to contact, but that slight sidearm action gets a lot of groundball outs and he has a good defense for that. New Ulm is a good team, but you’re not going to win a lot of games committing four errors.

WCCO’s Mike Max was at the game interviewing the New Ulm manager and fans in the grandstand. I talked with the videographer and he said they will air the footage tonight during their 10 p.m. newscast on channel 4.

Check out the MBA Facebook page for a photo gallery of the game.

The first game at Maple Lake saw Lastrup defeat Raymod 3-1 behind its ace, Chad Weiss. He pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits. The Lakers scored one in the first and two in second and that’s all they needed.

Right now at Irish Stadium, we have a pitchers’ duel between Winsted’s Tony Kley and Blue Earth’s Lee Hodges. Kley is touching 90 on the gun with four strikeouts and two hits allowed through four innings, while Hodges has 7 Ks and one hit allowed. Too bad this is a first round matchup because both of these teams have the players to make a run.

I’ll have photos from this game posted shortly.

10:30 p.m. – Back at the hotel room to wrap up score reporting. The Class B State tourney field is set. The No. 1 seeds are Moorhead, Savage, Austin and Victoria, and the No. 2 seeds are Shakopee, St. Michael, Cold Spring and Eagan. All those teams will head to Howard Lake on Saturday, Aug. 24 for games at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

In Class A, the title match is set for the Minneapolis Cobras against the St. Paul Shamrocks tomorrow at noon. Both teams are vying for their first State championship. A win for the Shamrocks will end it, while the Cobras need to win two for the trophy. Whether its one or two games, fans in attendance will be in for a show. The first matchup between to two teams ended in 11 innings in favor of the Shamrocks, 8-5.

And if I remember correctly, I do believe I called this matchup for the championship game. The Cobras need to take care of business twice, though, for my prediction to become reality.

In Class C, I already mentioned that I watched Fairmont win in Delano and then headed to Maple Lake to watch Winsted vs. Blue Earth. As expected, it turned into a pitchers’ duel between Winsted’s Tony Kley and the Blue Earth duo of Lee Hodges and Aaron Wendt. Kley came out on top with a complete game shutout, including 12 Ks. Kley’s offense came through in the bottom of the ninth with the game-winning walk-off sacrifice fly by Scott Theisen.

In the nightcap, it was another close bout between Green Isle and Sleepy Eye. The Irish came out on top 2-1 behind a great performance from Cody Hallahan. He lasted eight and one-third innings with five strikeouts. Brian Scherschligt led the GI offense, going 3-for3 with a home run, two RBIs and a hit-by-pitch. Andrew Woitas suffered the loss for the Indians after four innings.

That’s it for tonight. Back at it tomorrow to finish the first weekend.

Monday, August 19

7 a.m. – Heading back into the office for a full day at the Le Sueur News-Herald. Lot of stuff going on here so check back tonight for my thoughts on yesterday’s games. 

5 p.m. – Got Monday’s work schedule out of the way and now for more “work.” But I guess you can’t really call it work when you love what you do.

Anyway, I didn’t have time to update the blog yesterday because I was running all over the place. After covering a prior commitment in the afternoon, I got back to Delano in time to watch Jordan take on Spring Hill. I took a few pictures and was quite impressed with Spring Hill’s uniforms. Classic looking white with a solid pinstripe down the leg and big block numbers on the back. They kind of had an old school feel to them.

If any of you saw my tweet, what I wasn’t impressed with was a softball-like chant from the dugout on a low strike call. That was the only group-effort chant I heard all game, so whatever. Spring Hill replied later on Twitter, “6 mile radius, we need to find a few softball players every once and a while. Jerseys compliments of @rambow70. #chargernation”

Oh yeah, and there was a game played … for 13 innings. Trent Bohnsack went seven solid innings for Jordan, allowing just one run and was in line for the win until things took a turn for the worse in the bottom of the ninth. Trailing 2-1, Spring Hill got a leadoff single off Jordan reliever Dillon Lee. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second and a grounder to second moved the tying run to third. With two outs and down to their last strike, the Chargers’ prayers were answered. Not in the form of a hit, but rather a passed ball to score the tying run.

Atwater draftee Justin Schroeder pitched into the 10th inning and the Brewers loaded the bases against him with one out. But Schroeder got out of the jam with a groundout to third and comebacker to end the threat.

Lee came off the mound in the bottom half after giving up a double and Jordan skipper Jason Chulpsky handed the ball to Joe Lucas. Two groundouts ended the inning and we headed to the 11th.

Paynesville draftee Aaron Savelkoul came on for Spring Hill and cruised through the frame. The Chargers came to the plate in the 11th and could’ve had the winning run at third with two outs, but a poor base running decision resulted in an inning-ending double play.

Spring Hill’s left fielder made a great diving catch in the 12th to save a possible run and after an uneventful bottom half, we went to the 13th. Lucas reached base for the Brewers and came home on a double off the bat of Mitch Ries. That double proved to be the game-winner as Jordan held off a major threat in the bottom half. The Chargers had the tying run at third with one out, but Lucas got the final two outs for the win in relief.

That was probably the most eventful game of the weekend that I saw, followed by the most uneventful game of the weekend that I saw.

In the nightcap at Delano, Union Hill cruised past Fairfax 6-1. Daniel Fenies, a soon-to-be senior in high school, didn’t give up a hard hit ball all game and held the Cardinals to just three hits. Heading into the ninth, Fenies had a one-hit shutout going.

Fenies’ counterpart, Cody Loverude, lasted six innings, giving up three runs. In the seventh, another soon-to-be senior in high school came on for Fairfax. Brody Rodning, a draftee from Gaylord, tossed two and one-third innings of relief. He had some good stuff, but Union Hill was able to tag him for a few insurance runs.

The biggest thing I took away from this game, though, is that Union Hill and Gaylord might have some solid pitching for years to come if Fenies and Rodning stick around for their respective teams.

So now we’re down to 32 teams in Class C with the first round winners set to take on the region champs, who had a first round bye. I know some of the Board guys and stat guys filled out a bracket March Madness style and I missed that train, so I’ll go with my predictions a week into it.

Here are my Class C predictions and if it’s anything like my NCAA brackets each year, I’ll be lucky to have 25-percent correct. So teams, don’t be offended…

Starting from top to bottom:

Howard Lake def. Clear Lake

Green Isle def. Morris

St. Benedict def. Belle Plaine (I know I’ll hear it from both ends on that one)

Avon def. Cannon Falls (Great matchup, close game)

Fairmont def. New Market (Again, great matchup, close game)

Lastrup def. Moorhead

Winsted def. Waseca (The Wildcats have this guy named Kley that’s an OK pitcher … he was touching low 90s on the gun against Blue Earth)

Lake Henry def. Bluffton

Plato def. New Prague

Bertha def. Jordan (I really know I’ll hear crap for that one)

Luverne def. Midway

Maple Lake def. Watkins (I expect Irish Stadium to be packed to the brim and 100 cases of beer consumed)

Sobieski def. Elrosa

Lake Crystal def. Sartell

Lamberton def. Dumont

Fergus Falls def. Union Hill

Third round

Howard Lake def. Green Isle

Avon def. St. Benedict

Fairmont def. Lastrup

Winsted def. Lake Henry

Plato def. Bertha

Maple Lake def. Luverne

Sobieski def. Lake Crystal

Fergus Falls def. Lamberton

Quarterfinals

Howard Lake def. Avon

Winsted def. Fairmont

Maple Lake def. Plato

Fergus Falls def. Sobieski

Semifinals

Winsted def. Howard Lake

Maple Lake def. Fergus Falls

Championship

Maple Lake def. Winsted (I guess the story writes itself … defending champs win at their home park.)

So that’s my bracket and I can assure you it is riddled with errors.

And that’s it for the blog for now. I might have something short during the week, otherwise I’ll be back at it on Friday.

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