Prep baseball: LQPV, BOLD open at state tourney Thursday
For Central Minnesota prep baseball fans thinking about a BOLD vs. Lac qui Parle Valley matchup in the Class A state tournament, you'll have to wait for a Monday championship game at Target Field.
The Eagles and Warriors open the tournament today on opposite sides of the eight-team bracket, and there are plenty of pitfalls for both teams to clear before the dream game could become reality.
Changes improved LQPV
Section 3A champion LQPV (16-9) plays Section 7A winner Ely (20-3) at 12:30 p.m. today at Chaska Athletic Park. Getting by the Timberwolves will be a tough task.
They hit .280 as a team and have scored 173 (7.5 runs per game) while allowing just 44 (less than two runs per game), and three players are hitting .350 or better. Senior Nick Mathews is hitting .350 with 25 RBIs.
Timberwolves ace Wes Snyder is 7-1 with a 0.95 earned-run average and has 109 strike outs in 66 innings.
LQPV is a decidedly different team than the one that began the season, said coach Bart Hill.
Only catcher Preston Kraft and centerfielder Sam Haas have manned the same positions since the start of the year. The Eagles got shortstop Dylan Erickson back from injury he suffered during the football season, and they brought up players from the junior varsity like Austin Haas and Brandon Hill and plugged them into the lineup.
The Eagles started the season 3-5 but have gone 13-4 since that point.
"We brought some young kids up, got (Erickson) back at shortstop," Hill said. "The moves helped with the defense and then, boy, we started hitting the ball."
The Eagles have committed just two errors in their last five games, the younger players are fitting in, and those players who were displaced have respected the decisions and stayed true to the team concept, Hill said.
"We're playing well at the right time," Hill said. "The big thing is that they're fun kids who just get along. We have kids who were in the starting lineup who are now on the bench, but you wouldn't know it. They're the first ones up, slapping hands."
The Eagles are led by Kraft's .459 batting average and 31 RBIs, and Sam Haas is hitting .447 with 26 RBIs. Nineteen of his 34 hits have gone for extra bases.
Bornhorst will be the team's tournament ace, with his 8-2 record and 1.28 ERA. He's struck out 79 in 57 innings. Ben Morken also is expected to get some work.
BOLD, Blackduck making first state trips
The Warriors (22-4) won the Section 2A title by coming back through the losers bracket but BOLD hasn't done much losing this season. In fact, the Warriors have outscored their opponents 163 to 63 this season.
They play Section 8A champ Blackduck (22-3) at 3 p.m. today at Chaska Athletic Park.
The Drakes hit .317 as a team and have and even more potent offense, with 243 runs scored this season (9.7 runs per game). They've allowed an average of about three runs a game.
Both teams are good on the base paths, with Blackduck stealing 81 bases to the Warriors' 102 steals.
"We're very similar teams," said Warriors coach Brian Kingery. "We both like to run, we have pretty decent pitching and good defenses. That's a good combination, so it should be a good game."
Drakes senior Cody Bergquist has won six games and is their top hitter at .433. Like BOLD, the Drakes had to win twice to earn the section title and they did, winning 6-5 in two victories over Red Lake County. Bergquist delivered the game-winning hits in both games.
Blackduck sophomore Trey Volk is the team's top RBI man with 29 and he's hitting .400. Aaron Nissen is the Drakes' top arm, with a 7-1 record, a 1.18 ERA and 84 strike outs.
The Warriors enter the tournament hitting .305, and they've stolen 102 bases this season.
Logan Sangren brings in a 5-2 record and a 1.90 ERA, and he also leads the team wth 25 RBIs. He's hitting .364.
Kyle Athmann is hitting .367 and Zach Remillard comes in hitting .348. Jake Marcus will also be ready to pitch. He's compiled a 9-1 record with a 1.18 ERA and 59 strike outs in 71 innings.
"We just have to play well," Kingery said. "If you play well, you always give yourself a chance."