Baseball: A nice run for Willmar Cardinals ends
Willmar beats Sauk Rapids 5-0, then falls 8-1 to Alexandria in the Section 8AAA tournament in St. Cloud, meaning 14 seniors see their high school careers end.
ST. CLOUD — It was a long day at the ball yard for the Willmar baseball team. But as far as the Cardinals were concerned, it all ended a bit too soon.
Willmar was eliminated from the Section 8AAA playoffs Saturday, on a sunny, warm day at Dick Putz Field.
Willmar beat Sauk Rapids 5-0, then fell to Alexandria 8-1 to fall short of making it to Wednesday's 8AAA championship bracket. Alex (18-5) plays Little Falls (12-11) for the title. The Flyers must beat Alex twice to go to state.
Little Falls beat Rocori (13-9) 2-1 on Saturday at the other game at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex's Joe Faber Field.
Willmar finishes the year 15-7. It was a bit of a shock to the 14 seniors who played their last game Saturday.
"I'm just taking it all in," said senior shortstop/pitcher Ian Koosman. "This has been the best time of my life and it's over.
"I guess there's not much I can do about it anymore."
But oh, Koosman and company tried.
In Saturday's first game, Koosman pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out eight and walking two. He also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, a run and two RBI.
Also key for Willmar was a great at the plate for Jason Malmgren. Malmgren had two hits. He opened the bottom of the third with a solid line drive to right center and was sacrificed to second by Carter Schow. He then scored on Brandt Sunder's RBI double for Wilmar's first run.
Malmgren also was key in the fourth inning when Willmar broke it open on two more runs driven in on a one-out single.
"It was a good year," said Malmgren, another senior. "It's tough to think that it's got to end this way.
"I just wish the best to the team next year."
In the Alexandria game, the section's second-seeded team opened the scoring with a solo home run by J.D. Hennen in the second inning, then added two more in the third. There's where it stood until Willmar scored a controversial run in the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded and one out, pinch hitter Cullen Gregory lofted a medium-depth fly ball to right field. Pinch runner Sam Raitz came racing home and ran into catcher Lake Hagen-Koelbl up the third-base line about six feet from home plate. Hagen-Koelbl applied the tag and Raitz was called out.
Willmar head coach Tom DeBoer, coaching third, raced home to question the ruling. Catchers can't block home plate in high-school ball. The umpires conferred and awarded Raitz a run. That caused Alex head coach Jake Munsch to race out of the first-base dugout to argue about the changed call, to no avail.
It was big at the time because it cut Alex's lead to 3-1. But, Alexandria answered quickly with four runs in the sixth and another run in the seventh to put it way out of reach.
Parker Jendro tossed a complete game and was effective in mixing his pitches. The senior rigth-hander allowed six hits, striking out five and walking no one.
So it's over. A Willmar team that won 22 games last year on its way to the state tournament and 15 more this season is done.
An emotional DeBoer addressed the team afterward.
"I'm proud to have you guys in our program," he said. "It'll be tough moving on to next year without all of you. Thank you."
Willmar 5, Sauk Rapids 0
Sauk Rapids 000 000 0-0 3 2
Willmar 001 220 x-5 7 0
Hitting - Sauk Rapids: Terrence Moody 1-3, Jeff Solorz 1-2 bb, Noah Jensen 0-2 hbp, Dane Dingmann 1-1 … Willmar: Brandt Sunder 2-4 r rbi 2b, Alex Schramm 1-3 r bb, Ian Koosman 2-4 r rbi-2 2b, Sam Etterman 0-1 r bb sac, Cayden Hansen 0-1 bb-2, Jason Malmgren 2-3 r rbi-2, Carter Schow 0-1 sac, Sergio Fernandez 0-2 bb.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Sauk Rapids: Cullen Posch (L) 4-5-5-5-2-2, Ethan Swanson 2-2-0-0-2-1 … Willmar: Koosman (W) 7-3-0-0-2-8
Alexandria 8, Willmar 1
Alexandria 012 004 1-8 14 1
Willmar 000 010 0-1 6 1
Hitting - Alexandria: Reed Reisdorf 3-5 r-2 rbi-2, Brock Lerfald 1-2 r-2 rbi bb-2 hbp, Caleb Runge 1-3 2b rbi bb, Lake Hagen-Koebl 2-4 2b rbi-3, J.D. Hennen 1-4 r rbi hr, Nate Hammerback 3-4 r, Devin Cimbura 1-4 r sac sb, Grady Andeson 2-4 r … Willmar: Ian Koosman 1-3, Mason Madsen 1-3, Sam Raitz 0-0 r, Jason Malmgren 2-3, Carter Schow 2-3, Cullen Gregory 0-0 rbi sf
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Alexandria: Parker Jendro (W) 7-6-1-1-0-5 … Willmar: Sam Etterman (L) 6.2-12-8-8-3-6, Malmgren 0.1-2-0-0-0-1