By James Howell
All season long Maple Lake has been viewed as a consensus top team. On Wednesday, the Saints challenged that claim, but were unable to steal one from the Lakers.
Things started about how you would expect given Mitch Wurm and Tyler Zweihbohmer were pitching. In the 3rd, the Saints were able to score first with a little luck. It looked like the Lakers would escape the 3rd when Jon DeRock hit a ground ball towards veteran second baseman Nate Johnson, but the ball hit a rock in the infield and shot over his shoulder into right field, allowing Kyle Johnson to score and DeRock to go to second. Karsen Forsman then brought home DeRock with a single, giving the Saints a 2-0 lead.
Zweihbohmer worked in and out of trouble until the 5th. Nate Johnson walked to open the inning. After Zweihbohmer set down Chad Raiche on strikes, Dusty Decker blooped a single to right. Both men eventually scored, knotting the game at 2.
The Lakers looked poised to take the lead in the 6th when Raiche came to the plate with runners on 2nd and 3rd, but Zweihbohmer fanned the Laker slugger for the 2nd out. Manager Mark Forsman brought in relief ace Jordan Danielson to face Dusty Decker and Danielson struck out Decker with a nasty slider to end the threat.
In the 8th, the Lakers loaded the bases and once again Chad Raiche had a chance to put Maple Lake up. Raiche promptly grounded into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
For the Saints in the 9th, Kyle Johnson hit a 2 out single and reached second when Wurm threw it away on a pickoff attempt. Wurm was able the retire John Hohenstein on a groundout to stop the threat.
In the Laker 9th, Wurm singled and Brian Redemske reached on a hit by pitch. Derek Rachel came to the plate for the Lakers. Jordan Danielson had gotten Rachel looking in the 7th. This time, Rachel took Danielson’s 0-1 offering and blasted it over the center field fence for a dramatic walk-off 3 run homer.
Though the loss was disappointing, it was to be expected. The Saints have a very real opportunity to beat Howard Lake on Sunday at Saints Field. Couple that with a Loretto loss to either Delano, Mound, or Maple Plain and the Saints clinch the 3 seed in the Region 12C playoffs.
The Saints play a non-league game Friday against the Minneapolis Angels in Dassel.