Baseball: Two-win week for Tigers
The PHS baseball team notched its second straight victory Friday, April 20 with a 5-3 home win against Mora. The win brought the Tigers’ record back to .500 at 2-2. The Tigers fell to 2-3 a day later with a loss at Chisago Lakes.
The Mustangs took an early lead on a towering two-run home run by cleanup hitter (and starting pitcher) Jake Lindberg to right center field with one out in the first inning. Mora added a third run in the top of the third inning when Lindberg grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Derek Graves.
Heading into the bottom of the third the Tigers trailed 3-0 and were still looking for their first base runner of the game against Lindberg. Princeton drew three straight walks to start the inning before Zack Ludwig’s fielder’s choice groundout with one out plated the Tigers’ first run.
With a 1-2 count on first baseman Dalton Mattson and two outs Ludwig broke to steal second base with a great jump on Lindberg. Despite Mattson being a left-handed batter the Mustangs second baseman broke to cover the bag to collect a throw that never came. Mattson poked the pitch through the exposed right side of the infield for the Tigers’ first hit and second run of the game as Ludwig scored.
“That hit got us going. When you get that first hit, especially in the third or fourth inning, it shows the team that we can hit this guy,” PHS head coach Jesse Zimmer said. “Sometimes that’s all we need – to just get that first guy going.”
The Tigers took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Brennen Godeen led off by ripping an 0-1 pitch off of Lindberg’s foot for an infield single. Riley Miller followed with a ground ball down the right field line that deflected off the glove of Mustangs’ first baseman Josh Cheney and into the outfield. The error allowed Godeen to reach third base, but Miller was thrown out trying to reach second on the play.
With runners on the corners and one out Thomas Klaphake laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt just in front of the pitcher’s mound. As Godeen broke for home, Lindberg seemed to rush his throw to the plate and the ball sailed all the way to the backstop allowing the tying run to score.
Klaphake gained second base on the throwing error and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice ground ball by Dan Muench. With two outs and Klaphake representing the go-ahead run on third base, Justin Sjoquist hit a ground ball to Mustang shortstop Graves.
The ball rolled slowly through the tall infield grass and Graves appeared to bobble the ball a bit when transferring the ball from his glove to his throwing hand. His throw was on time but not accurate as it pulled Cheney off the bag and allowed Klaphake to score the game’s eventual winning run.
PHS added another run in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead, and Ludwig snuffed out a Mustangs’ mini rally in relief of starter Godeen in the top of the seventh to secure the victory. Godeen lasted five-plus innings and allowed three runs on five hits to earn the victory.
Both the top and the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup contributed to the victory, with the 8-9-1-2 spots in the order combining to reach base nine times in 14 plate appearances.
“It’s important to have contributions from all 1-9 (batters in the lineup). If your top hitters aren’t hitting, someone has to pick them up,” coach Zimmer said. “That’s why you have nine hitters and that’s what makes a good baseball team. It isn’t just about one or two guys.”
“We’ve gotten two wins in a row, and it’s always nice to win,” coach Zimmer said. “It was a good baseball game. We took advantage of some mistakes when they made them and our hitters made good adjustments against a very good pitcher.”
Chisago Lakes 2, Princeton 1
The Tiger baseball team dropped a close game at Chisago Lakes Saturday, April 21 by a final score of 2-1. The loss dropped the Tigers to 2-3 on the season.
Princeton only committed one error on a drizzly day with damp field conditions. The Tigers had a golden opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the top of the seventh inning when they put runners on second and third with just one out. Jordan Bachmeyer put down a good bunt, but the ball trickled foul, and Bachmeyer would end up striking out.
The Tigers’ last hope, Zack Ludwig, drilled a line drive to center field but right at the Wildcats’ center fielder who made the catch.
“It was a very good ball game, we just came up a little short,” PHS head coach Jesse Zimmer said after the game.
Princeton 10, Milaca 7
The Princeton Tigers’ baseball team jumped out to a big lead at Milaca on Thursday, April 19, then survived a late Wolves’ rally to hang on for a 10-7 victory. The Tigers led the game 10-2 after just three innings but committed three errors in the sixth inning to allow Milaca to cut the deficit to three runs. The Wolves went down 1-2-3 in the seventh inning, however, and Princeton held on for their first win of the season.