ST. CLOUD — Before Tuesday’s regular-season finale against St. Cloud Apollo, senior Andrew Baumgart got the Willmar baseball team in a huddle knowing there was history on the line.
“He said let’s go do this for the 30 teams that couldn’t do this before us,” said Cardinals head coach Tom DeBoer. “Everyone looked up and said ‘let’s go.’”
And after a 14-1 victory over the host Eagles on Tuesday at Joe Faber Field, Willmar stands atop the Central Lakes Conference for the first time in more than 30 years.
Going 12-2 in conference play, it is the Cardinals’ first CLC championship since being co-champs with Brainerd in 1990 and the school’s first outright championship since 1988.
“This normally isn’t on the table in the last game for us,” DeBoer said. “This is the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve had an opportunity to do this. To share this with our players was pretty special.”
The Cardinals collected 17 hits in the game, with Jett Salonek, Ian Koosman, Dylan Arndorfer, Alex Schramm, Cayden Hansen and Brandt Sunder all collecting two. Salonek had two doubles, four RBIs and a run. Koosman, Hansen and Sunder all scored twice in the victory.
“The first three innings were great,” DeBoer said. Willmar led 7-0 through three frames. “We got guys on base and we hit a lot of balls hard.”
On the mound, Sam Etterman got the win after tossing four scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing three hits with no walks.
The Cardinals conclude the regular season with a 18-2 record. Seeding for Section 6AAA takes place Friday, with the first round taking place Tuesday, June 1.
“We’ll have a week off, which is good for us,” DeBoer said. “We’ll keep (practice) fun, keep it light but keep it important.”
Willmar 214 201 4-14 17 1
Apollo 000 001 0- 1 5 4
Hitting - Willmar: Jett Salonek 2-2 2b-2 r rbi-4 bb, Jason Malmgren 1-2 3b r, Ian Koosman 2-5 r-2 rbi sb, Andrew Baumgart 1-3 r, Carter Schow 1-2 r rbi, Sam Etterman 1-3 rbi-2 sb, Dalton Ogdahl 1-2, Dylan Arndorfer 2-2 r rbi sb bb-2, Alex Schramm 2-4 2b r rbi bb, Cayden Hansen 2-5 r-2 rbi, Brandt Sunder 2-4 3b r-2, Chase Dirksen 0-1 rbi sf, Hunter Magnuson 0-1 r bb, Sergio Fernandez 0-1 r … Apollo: Grant Roob 2-4 r, Hayden Schmitz 1-3, Luke Boettcher 1-2 bb, Blake O’Hara 1-2 2b bb, Will Allenspach 0-3 rbi.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Willmar: Etterman (W) 4-3-0-0-0-3, Ogdahl (Sv) 3-2-1-0-4-3 … Apollo: Roob (L) 3-8-7-7-3-0, Jonah Petko 2-1-2-0-2-0, James Nyberg 1 1/3-6-5-4-0-1, Allenspach 2/3-2-0-0-0-0.