PREP BASEBALL: Eagles fall in section finalsGRANITE FALLS — In a well-played ballgame featuring a pair of teams who are each nicknamed the Eagles and have both been playing their best baseball late in the season, Lac qui Parle Valley slugged three home runs and claimed a 10-1 victory over Windom to capture the Section 3A championship Thursday night at Richter Field.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
GRANITE FALLS — In a well-played ballgame featuring a pair of teams who are each nicknamed the Eagles and have both been playing their best baseball late in the season, Lac qui Parle Valley slugged three home runs and claimed a 10-1 victory over Windom to capture the Section 3A championship Thursday night at Richter Field.
LQPV (16-9) went 5-0 in the section tourney and will play Section 7 champion Ely (20-3) in the first round of the Class A state tournament next Thursday in Chaska. First pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
“I’m so happy for this group of guys, as this is just fantastic,” LQPV head coach Bart Hill said after the game. “Our experience was beneficial, as we have seven seniors and eight juniors who have played a lot of baseball over the years. We certainly want to tip our hats to Windom, as they have a very good team and we had to play well in order to beat them twice in the tournament.”
Windom, which ends its season with a record of 10-15, was 4-2 in six exciting playoff games. The Eagles won their first three tournament games before losing by a 5-0 score to LQPV last Saturday and then earning a thrilling 2-1 win over Springfield on Tuesday.
“We knew that the bubble was eventually going to burst,” Windom head coach Brad Schlomann said. “But what a great run through the tournament we had, as all of the credit goes to the kids for playing together and finding ways to win ballgames. I’m very proud of the season that we had and the great moments that we got to experience along the way — it sure was a lot of fun.”
Windom strikes first with third-inning run
Neither team committed an error in the cleanly-played game, as 39 outs were recorded in impressive fashion from start to finish.
LQPV’s Brandon Bornhorst and Windom’s Jake Holt each twirled two scoreless innings to start the game, as both hurlers threw strikes and kept their defensive teammates involved behind them.
Windom’s Danny Kneeland and LQPV’s Colby Siegert (3-for-3, four RBIs) cracked a single apiece in the first frame before Bornhorst and Holt both retired the side in order in the second inning.
Bornhorst, who fanned nine batters and didn’t issue a walk in a solid complete-game effort on the mound, notched his fourth strikeout of the night to start the top of the third.
Tim Larson, though, banged a double up against the left-field fence in the next at-bat to get something going for Windom. Larson later came around and scored on Drake Borsgard’s two-out RBI single to the opposite field (left-center) to put the blue-and-gold Eagles up 1-0.
“Those were two big hits for us,” Schlomann said. “The atmosphere in the dugout was good at that point, as Tim and Drake each put a good swing on the ball to help us take an early lead.”
However, LQPV quickly took the momentum away from Windom with a key four-run output in the bottom half of the inning. Brandon Hill’s lead-off single to left field set the table for the red-and-black Eagles.
Siegert tagged an RBI double to the gap in right-center two batters later, plating Hill to tie the score. Dylan Erickson (3-for-4) followed with an infield single, as LQPV had two on with one out.
Sam Haas, a left-handed hitter who was also the runner-up in the 160-pound Class AA state wrestling individual tournament, then gave the Eagles a 4-1 cushion by crushing a three-run home run over the right-field fence.
“He’s a good athlete and hit that one well,” said Schlomann, who is also Windom/Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin’s head wrestling coach. “He was hitless in four or five at-bats against Jake prior to that (including Saturday’s game) and hadn’t hurt us, but that home run sure was a game-changer.”
Windom threatened to counter in the fourth, as Brandon Thongvivong led off with a single to left and went to second when Holt was hit by a pitch.
But Bornhorst escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to Hill at second base, beginning a stretch in which he retired 10 consecutive batters. Bornhorst worked a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth for LQPV.
“We have been pitching well lately, and Brandon was excellent again tonight,” Bart Hill said. “He worked quickly and threw strikes, which is what we like to see. Our defense made all of the routine plays.”
LQPV hits two more homers, stays in control
Windom also made all of the plays defensively, but eight of LQPV’s 10 runs were scored on balls hit out of the park.
“I thought we played well, despite what the final score shows,” Schlomann said. “We didn’t make an error and limited the number of walks that we allowed. LQPV just played better and really hit the ball well with power.”
Hill (2-for-4) singled and scored on Erickson’s RBI single up the middle in the fourth to make it 5-1, and LQPV again used the long ball — twice — to extend the gap to 10-1 during a five-run sixth.
A pinch-hit, lead-off double by Dylan Lillejord and a one-out walk issued to Austin Haas preceded a three-run home run to right field by Siegert — also a left-handed hitter — to make it 8-1.
Erickson then singled and scored when Sam Haas (2-for-4, five RBIs) clubbed a two-run home run — his second dinger of the game — to left-center to give LQPV a commanding 10-1 advantage.
“LQPV is a good hitting team,” Schlomann said. “They’re a good team, period. They can hit, they can pitch and they can play defense — they will do well at the state tournament.”
Windom’s Travis Janssen was hit by a pitch with one out in the seventh, but the Eagles were unable to mount a last-inning comeback. Bornhorst recorded a strikeout and induced a groundout to end the game, as he retired 12 of the final 13 batters that he faced.
Holt (2 1/3 innings), Collin Lovell (three innings), Thongvivong (faced three batters in the sixth) and Salvador Caballero (two-thirds of an inning) shared the pitching duties for Windom.
R H E
Windom 001 000 0 — 1 4 0
LQPV 004 105 X — 10 13 0