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Workmanlike 'Dogs not lacking talent

Paynesville third baseman Grant Ludwig fields a ground ball and prepares to throw to first during a May 19 game against New London-Spicer in Spicer. Tom Larson / Tribune

Paynesville head baseball coach Brad Skoglund claims his team is not a star-laden outfit that gets by on talent and wins by gaudy margins.

The Bulldogs play solid defense behind control pitchers (2.7 runs allowed per game), and they scratch out enough runs (6.1 per game) to win 19 games and the Section 3AA championship.

"We're not a flashy team but a hard-working team," said Skoglund, whose 19-4 Bulldogs open the Class AA Minnesota State Baseball Tournament against Jordan (14-8) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud.

But a look at the Bulldogs' overall numbers suggest they aren't beating teams with their lunch pails alone.

Paynesville's hitting a combine .298 while limiting opponents to a .226 average. They've scored 140 runs on 149 base hits, they've hit only three home runs but they've stolen 49 bases.

The Bulldogs' team earned-run average is 1.73 and they've committed 31 errors compared to their opponents' 65.

Grant Ludwig leads the team at the plate and on the mound. Ludwig enters the state tournament hitting a team-leading .391 with a team-best 25 hits and 13 runs batted in. He's worked 43 innings and posted a 4-2 record with a 1.68 ERA.

Zach Osendorf is hitting .322 with a team-best 19 RBIs, Levi Bast is hitting .357 and is one of six Bulldogs with double-digit RBIs with 11. Luke Johnson is hitting .317 and Zach Schroeder is hitting .312.

Spencer Imholte leads the Bulldogs with a 5-1 record and 54-1/3 innings pitched, and he and Sam Oehrlein both have 1.71 ERAs. Oehrlein is 3-1 with 22 strikeouts in 25 innings.

But Jordan's Hubmen don't play shabby baseball. They are hitting .273 as a team and has a 2.84 team ERA.

Ryan Friedges leads the Hubmen hitting .373 and has driven in a team-best 30 runs.

Jonathan Huss is hitting .328 with 15 RBIs and Jonathan Draheim is hitting .284 and leads the team on the mound with 37-2/3 innings. He's 4-3 with a 2.42 ERA and had 38 strikeouts.

Michael Lambrecht is hitting .400 with 14 RBIs in 14 games. On the mound, he's 4-1 with a 1.11 ERA and has 26 strikeouts in 25-1/3 innings.

Paynesville is Class AA's No. 3 seed—behind No. 1 Duluth Marshall and Central Minnesota Conference rival and No. 2-seed Maple Lake—and, with a win Thursday, the Bulldogs would face the winner of Maple Lake and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Putz Field.

Tom Larson

Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.

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