GRANITE FALLS —After a hard-fought opener that ended with an New London-Spicer win, Paynesville came back with a vengeance in Game Two, winning 15-3 in five innings to win the Section 3AA championship and advance to the Class AA State Tournament. New London-Spicer jumped out to a four run lead in the first inning of Game One thanks to a three-run home run from Evan Haugen. Paynesville fought back to tie things up in the fourth but the Wildcats piled on the hits near the end of the game to earn a 11-6 win.
WILLMAR — The Stingers didn’t let a little — or a lot of — rain slow down their offense, as they put up five runs in five innings. Lightning, however, ended the game early, with the Stingers on top of the La Crosse Loggers 5-0. It’s the third win in a row for the Stingers, moving their record to 5-4. The game started well for the Stingers as they loaded the bases with the first three batters. First baseman Greg Lambert grounded into a double play but allowed Quincy McAfee to score. Devin Foyle also drove in a run with an RBI single in the first.
Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd’s Jess Hansen is headed to the Minnesota State Tennis Tournament this year, but if you follow high school tennis at all that should be no surprise. This will be Hansen’s fourth time in the state tournament and it is the 13th year in a row that somebody from his family has made it to the tournament. His two eldest brothers, Dutch and Ian, made it to the state tournament as a doubles team in 2004 and 2005 before Dutch started the pattern of competing in singles. His brother Jack also competed in the tournament.
WILLMAR — It took five pitchers to do so but the Stingers were able to shut out the Mankato MoonDogs 7-0 Tuesday at Bill Taunton Stadium. Blake Stockert started the game for Willmar, going five innings with four strikeouts. Joe Vranesic, Jake Rothwell, Josh Mill and Jayce Vancena then each pitched scoreless innings, only allowing three hits when Stockert was relieved.
SPICER — New University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle has entered the department during a tumultuous time but he couldn’t keep himself from smiling Thursday at Johnny O’Neil’s Green Lake Social. “Minnesota has always been a special place for me,” Coyle said. “Our two oldest children were born here and a lot of things brought us back here, family being one of them. I’m so grateful for the opportunity President [Eric] Kaler gave me to come back to Minnesota.”
GRANITE FALLS — Paynesville was down to its final out in the seventh inning when they decided to get the offense going, coming back twice to win a Section 3AA winner’s bracket semifinal against Pipestone 5-4 in eight innings Wednesday. After giving up three runs in the opening frame, Nathan Stang battled with Pipestone’s Mitchell Carson, only allowing two hits after the first inning.
WILLMAR — The Willmar Stingers introduced two new members of the organization at their season opener on Tuesday. One was a former MLB all-star catcher. The other was a blue bear. Terry Steinbach, a part-time coach for the Stingers this season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and signed autographs before the game. He didn’t coach the season opener but he says he’s ready to put the uniform back on. “Baseball is in my blood, it’s what I know,” Steinbach said. “I’m really looking forward to helping these kids in any way I can.”
LITCHFIELD — The Litchfield Dragons’ season came to an end on Thursday in a nail-biting 5-4 loss to Norwood Young America in the first round of the Section 5AA-West playoffs. The Raiders started hot with a leadoff home run from Carter Clemensen. “It was the next couple of guys that really got me nervous,” Dragon coach Jeff Wollin said. “You have to give it to them, though; they put good swings on the ball. I guess it was a sign of things to come.”
Brad Skoglund has been running to the coach’s box at third base for the Paynesville Bulldogs for the past 29 years. While the stadium and the teams have changed around him, his passion for the game has remained. Skoglund, 55, surpassed the 400 win mark on May 17 against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and while many would say this is a noteworthy milestone, he is quick to put credit elsewhere.