The Princeton High School baseball team extended its season before finally bowing out in the fourth round of the Section 7AAA baseball tournament last weekend.
May 30 at Grand Rapids, the Tigers lost an 8-7 heart-breaker to the No. 3 seed Thunderhawks. Dan Muench started on the mound and threw 4.6 good innings, giving up just one walk. RBI hits by Thomas Klaphake and Derek Groebner pushed Princeton ahead 6-5 in the top of the sixth.
After the ‘Hawks regained a 7-6 lead, the Tigers tied it at 7-7 in the top of the seventh when Zack Ludwig and Muench singled, were sacrificed up by Dan Voce, and Dalton Mattson delivered a sacrifice fly. Grand Rapids’ Reid Holum led off the bottom of the inning with a triple, and the next two batters were intentionally walked. Holum then scored the game-winner when the next batter was hit by a pitch.
“That was just a good baseball game. Each team hit the ball well, and there was a lot of coaching strategy going on by both benches,” said Tiger coach Jesse Zimmer.
Heading back north Saturday morning, Princeton stayed alive by defeating Cambridge-Isanti 5-1 in Cohasset. Ludwig got his second win of the playoffs by limiting the Bluejackets to five hits over his seven innings, racking up eight strikeouts while not giving up a walk. Muench scored the game’s first run on a Mattson fielder’s choice, then Nick Zeroth made it 2-0 in the first by coming home on a wild pitch. The Tigers scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“That was another good game with both team’s No. 1 pitchers going at it, with both allowing just five hits,” Zimmer said.
• The Tigers’ season came to a close with a 9-2 loss to No. 1 seed Elk River later Saturday afternoon. The Elks led 4-2 when they put up five runs in the bottom of the fourth to break the game open. Muench had two hits to lead the Princeton attack. The Tigers closed with a 9-14 overall record this spring.
• In the final winners’ bracket game, No. 2 seed Forest Lake defeated No. 8 North Branch 12-3. The Section 7AAA tourney goes back to Grand Rapids June 4 and 5, leading off with the Elk River vs. Grand Rapids elimination game, followed by the winner taking on North Branch. The team coming out of that bracket must defeat Forest Lake twice in Wednesday’s championship.
The Class AAA state tourney will be June 13-14 at St. Paul’s Midway Stadium, with the championship June 17 at Target Field.