No. 3 Detroit Lakes spotted four early runs to No. 4 ROCORI and the Spartans took advantage of the Lakers’ miscues to advance to the second round of the Section 8AAA baseball playoffs in a 9-4 victory at Washington Park Tuesday, June 1.
A consistent axiom of Laker head coach Terry Eiter this season is that his team cannot hang errors on the board and expect to win every game, despite coming into Tuesday’s playoff opener on a 16-game winning streak.
Detroit Lakes got off to a tough start and Eiter’s words proved true as four DL errors contributed to a rough start and eventually the loss.
Two walks, a wild pitch and an error contributed to the pair of first inning ROCORI runs. Connor Clark singled to centerfield to score Jayden Philippi with the first run. Brady Linn brought Jack Spanier home on a sacrifice fly to Jordan Tucker in centerfield.
Detroit Lakes escaped more damage when Trevor Schnathorst and Bradly Swierz turned an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
A shaky second inning doubled the Spartans’ lead to 4-0.
ROCORI’s Joel Sowada reached on an error by Schnathorst to lead off the second inning. Sowada stole second base uncontested and Carter Thelen walked. Both runners advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch.
Philippi hit a sacrifice fly to the gap in left center, tracked down by Tucker. Both runners moved up, Sowada scoring and Thelen to third base. Thelen scored ROCORI’s fourth run on a RBI single by Spanier.
The Lakers put pressure on Spartan starter Brady Blattner in the third, loading the bases with one out, but a gaffe on the basepaths killed the rally.
Cleanup hitter Zack Oistad hit a sacrifice fly to right field bringing Jordan Tucker home with the first DL run, but the inning ended on a double play when Schnathorst was gunned out while returning to the first base bag on a diving catch and tag by ROCORI’s first baseman Cam Miller on the throw from right by Thelen.
ROCORI took the momentum from that play and scored five straight runs, four immediately in the fourth and an insurance run in the fifth to take a commanding 9-1 lead.
A couple of breaks aided a three-run home half of the sixth inning to give DL life late.
Swiers picked up a pair of RBI on a one-out single with the bases loaded to score Jacob Thomas and Logan Lund, who ran through Eiter’s stop sign at third base to score easily.
Swiers’ hit took a crazy hop near the second base bag over the glove of shortstop Spanier to turn a possible inning-ending double play into two runs.
A Spanier error on a Tucker ground ball loaded the bags again for DL. Schnathorst hit a two-out single to bring Jake Bishop home.
Down five runs, Oistad was back at the plate with the bases loaded, but Blattner got out of the jam on a first-pitch swinging fielder’s choice at third base.
Andrew Kulik reached base in the Lakers’ last at-bats of the seventh inning, but Blattner polished off a complete game with two lazy fly ball outs. He allowed four runs, three earned on 110 pitches. He struck out only one and walked six Lakers.
Logan Lund took the loss by allowing eight runs, three earned, on seven hits, in four innings of work. He walked and struck out three.
Oistad allowed one run on three hits in three innings of relief striking out two and walking two.
Schnathorst had half of the Lakers’ six hits going 3-3 with one RBI.
Swiers was 1-2 with a walk and two RBI from the nine spot in the order.
ROCORI improved to 13-8 overall and will face No. 5 Alexandria in the next round. The Cardinals upset No. 2 Bemidji 4-2 in Bemidji to advance.
No. 6 Little Falls nearly pulled off an upset in Sartell, but the top-seeded Sabres walked off the Flyers 8-7 on an Austin Henrichs game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh.
Little Falls plays at Bemidji in an elimination game Thursday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Detroit Lakes will face No. 1 Sartell-St. Stephen in Sartell in a must-win game for the Lakers the same day at 4:30 p.m.
DL dropped to 18-3 on the season, two of those losses have come at the hands of ROCORI, the other Sartell-St. Stephen.
Section 8AAA Playoffs, first round, Washington Park
No. 4 ROCORI 9, No. 3 Detroit Lakes 4
ROC 220 410 0 - 9 9 1
DL 001 003 0 - 4 6 4
WP: Brady Blattner; LP: Logan Lund.
Read more stories by Robert Williams here.