The Tigers baseball team bounced back from a 7-1 setback to #1 Cathedral in their season opener to play a tight, tough game with #3 Little Falls on Tuesday, April 17th. Princeton (0-2) fell to the Flyers 2-1 at Swede Solheim Veteran’s Field but showed much improvement in game two of a grueling 2012 schedule.
The Tigers took their first lead of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning. Princeton first baseman Dalton Mattson led off the inning with a ground ball double down the right field line and advanced to third on a Jake Anderson bloop single to center field. After a lineout, Tigers starting pitcher Zack Ludwig helped his own cause by smacking a single into right field to give Princeton a 1-0 lead.
Ludwig (0-2) was outstanding on the mound for Princeton in his second start of the season, going the distance against a top contender for the state title this season. The right-hander went 7 innings, allowing just six hits and two runs while striking out three Flyers.
“He was in command of his fastball and his changeup today,” Tigers head coach Jesse Zimmer said of Ludwig. “He was in control of both pitches and threw them both for strikes and that’s what he needs to do.”
Ludwig held Little Falls at bay until the top of the fifth when the Flyers were finally able to scrape a run across. Michael Holthaus led off the inning by reaching on a close call at first base. Second baseman Daniel Voce made diving stop behind the second base bag on a ground ball up the middle and appeared to lose his grip on the ball as he turned and fired to Mattson on first. Despite a strong throw and brilliant stretch from Mattson, Holthaus was ruled safe.
After a failed bunt resulted in the first out, Flyers leadoff hitter Collin Eckman drilled a triple into right-center field to plate Holthaus and tie the game. The Flyers second run came on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning by Spencer Fenske.
The Tigers attempted to mount a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning but had a pair of baserunners cut down on the basepaths. Dalton Mattson was retired after a six-pitch at bat to lead off the inning, then Jake Anderson was hit by a pitch from Little Falls starter Nathan Backowski.
However, Anderson’s tenure at first base would not last long as he was picked off by Backowski with Brennan Godeen at the plate. Godeen would end up singling to right-center field but was caught stealing second base on after a perfectly-timed Flyer pitchout to end the inning.
The Tigers start the season 0-2 but there is plenty of reason for optimism. The two losses came against two top-three teams in the state and the team showed much improvement from the first game to the second.
Also of note, Jake Anderson has reached base five out of six times he has come to the plate, retired only in his first at-bat on Tuesday. “Jake has experience. He’s getting the foot down, getting the bat on the ball, and making good contact. He’s really putting good at-bats together,” Zimmer said.