Caledonia suffers first losses in Legion Tourney
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 5:10 AM
Caledonia won one game and dropped two in the American Legion Conference Baseball Tournament. With the No. 4 seed, coach Brian Langen's boys came away with a hard-fought victory over No. 5 St. Charles in the tournament opener.
Josh Lampert slides into second base just ahead of the throw during tourney win over St. Charles.
Top seed Wabasha then dropped Caledonia into the losers bracket where the road ended in an extra-inning heartbreaker against No. 6 Chatfield.
These were the first setbacks for Caledonia (8-2) after an undefeated regular season.
Caledonia 7, St. Charles 3
Caledonia played in front of a home crowd on July 15 facing the Saints the first time this year. Riding the hot bat of T. J. Schultz and exploiting the base paths at every opportunity, Caledonia combined six hits, five walks, and eleven stolen bases to secure the win for the home team. Schultz had a triple, two singles, three stolen bases and scored three runs.
Pitchers Ryan Frank and Kai Lidstrom combined for 7 strikeouts but had to tip-toe around 11 hits and 5 walks.
St. Charles' biggest threat came late in the game. Lidstrom came on in relief in the fifth, giving up a hard-hit single but then striking out the side. But in the sixth, the St. Charles bats got hot, and the pressure of the situation got the better of Caledonia's young lefty.
After a double, two singles, a hit batsman and a passed ball, Coach Langen exercised his option to return his starter to close out the game. Frank did so successfully, and having been both starter and reliever, he got the quirky combination of being credited with both the win and the save.
Wabasha 3, Cal 0
Caledonia came up empty in a July 17 loss at Wabasha where the evening was hot, but the bats were not. Wabasha managed only three hits the entire game but combined them with walks and errors for a pair of runs in the third inning and one in the fifth.
Meanwhile, the Wabasha pitcher was sharp, striking out seven and keeping the Caledonia batters in check with a marvelously-controlled fastball and a high curveball that looked too good to lay off of.
Caledonia's Ryan Frank struggled to find his curveball throughout the game, often dropping down to near sidearm in his attempt to find something to complement his fastball.
Nonetheless, Ryan's concentration and will to win limited the Wabasha batters to only three hits. He kept Caledonia close, but with only five Caledonia base runners and the inability to move them along, Wabasha moved up to the winners bracket as Caledonia moved down.
Chatfield 5, Caledonia 4
In a losers bracket elimination game, Caledonia could not repeat its earlier wins against lower-seeded Chatfield and suffered a tough extra-inning home loss.
Despite being the beneficiaries of eight walks and three errors, Caledonia's offense could only garner four runs on five hits. Three of those five belonged to Schultz, as he continued to rip the ball for Caledonia.
Tanner Langen got the start for Caledonia. And as he cruised early, his offense got on the board in the second inning with three walks followed by an RBI-single by Joe Pettit.
Chatfield answered in the top of the third with a breakout inning that nearly sent Langen packing. Four walks and two singles resulted in three runs for the visitors.
Coach Langen stuck with his righty, and in the top of the inning, Caledonia's Seth Twite, Tanner Gran and Josh Lampert used a single, walk and another single to grab a run to tie the score at 3-3.
Langen weathered a tough fourth to settle down and pitch beautifully in the fifth. In the bottom half of the fifth, Caledonia mounted its best hope for a big rally. Travis Frank led off with a triple, followed by a walk to Ryan Frank, a single by Twite to score Travis, and a walk to Gran. But with the bases loaded, Chatfield's pitcher held fast, striking out two to end the inning with Caledonia holding on to a slim 4-3 margin.
Langen worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning as the home crowd nervously anticipated the narrowest of victories. But it was not to be. With two outs in the seventh, Langen gave up a single and a triple to knot the score at 4-4. Quickly Coach Langen went to Lidstrom, his submarine lefty, who got a quick third out.
Lidstrom returned in the extra eighth inning with the score still knotted. He retired the first two batters, but an infield hit and two infield errors loaded the bases.
Coach Langen brought in Ryan Frank, his go-to pitcher all year. With the game on the line and with virtually no warm-up, Caledonia's most successful and fiercest competitor on the mound could not get the third out before the winning run had scored on a walk.
In the bottom of the eighth, Chatfield ace Jake Neis quickly dismissed the bottom of the Caledonia batting order as Chatfield celebrated a well-deserved victory.