Lidstrom one batter away from perfection in blanking of Bangor
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 10:01 AM
Coasting behind the one-hit pitching of rookie Kai Lidstrom, the Caledonia Legion baseball team (2-0) posted a non-conference 13-0 shutout of Bangor, Wis., on June 7.
Kai Lidstrom was one out away from a perfect game in Legion shutout at Bangor last week.
Lidstrom was playing alongside a small handful of veterans and a large contingent of fellow newcomers. If local baseball observers had expected this young team to struggle, they were wrong. Having won their opener with veteran Ryan Frank on the mound, Caledonia continued its domination with near-perfect pitching from Lidstrom, coupled with explosive offensive play up and down the batting order.
Before he took the mound in the first inning, Lidstrom already had a comfortable 5-0 lead with Caledonia making efficient use of but one hit.
Bangor's young pitcher struggled from the outset, allowing Caledonia to combine walks and stolen bases to set up a big RBI hit by Ryan Frank.
In stark contrast, Lidstrom, a left-handed submariner, cruised with his sinking fastball always beneath the swings of the Bangor batters. Each inning was the same - three up, three down.
In their half of every inning, Caledonia showed no mercy forcing the score ever higher no matter what pitcher Bangor brought in to stop the whir of Caledonia runners rounding third base. Highlights included Tanner Langen, 3-3 with a double and 4 RBIs; Travis Frank, 2-3 with a double and 4 RBIs; Tanner Gran, a double and run scored; and T. J. Schultz, 2-3 with an RBI.
Caledonia also stole 12 bases, including two heads-up thefts of home by Josh Lampert and Travis Frank.
In the final inning, only one excitement remained for Caledonia. It played out as Lidstrom stared a perfect game in the face, throwing to what should have been the game's last batter.
With a 1-2 count, Lidstrom threw a pitch that the Bangor batter could not possibly hit well; but hit it he did, so weakly that it resembled a well-placed bunt.
It rolled parallel to the third base line, a mere three inches from it, as Lidstrom and catcher Joe Petit raced to make the play.
The perfect game, elusive at any level of baseball, quickly became a one-hit shutout as the batter was safe at first.
But with a final strikeout, Lidstrom and the entire team celebrated an easy 13-0 victory as the team headed home undefeated after the first two games.
Boys win opener versus Chatfield 6-2
The team had opened its season on June 3 with a 6-2 win over Chatfield, fueled by excellent pitching and timely hitting.
Former Caledonia High School pitching standout Ryan Frank kept the Chatfield batters off guard, using his excellent curveball as a foil for his fastball.
Frank said before the game, "I throw a lot of junk and prefer to stay away from the fastball."
But throw the fastball he did, forcing batters to guess-and often badly-notching eight strikeouts over six innings of work.
Caledonia parlayed a combination of walks, hard-hit balls and steals for two runs in the bottom of the first inning.
While Ryan Frank continued to dominate, Chatfield's pitchers could not find their groove. In the third inning, after singles by Schultz and Harrison Speltz and a Seth Twite walk, Justin Burg fell behind 0-2 before ripping a ball deep to left-center, clearing the bases and giving Caledonia a commanding 5-0 lead.
Coach Brian Langen, in his first year as Legion manager (but hardly a rookie to those who follow Caledonia baseball), notched his first win with praise for his players.
"I believe in these kids, and when you believe in your players, they believe in themselves."
Next up is a home game against Lewiston-Altura on Thursday, June 13.