Archive for HJ Sports

REGION 12C ROUNDUP: Huskies, Athletics punch state tickets; two spots still up for grabs

DELANO — Serving as the mecca of Region 12C amateur baseball this August, Delano Municipal Stadium was full for multiple days last weekend as the region playoffs began and two teams have already earned berths to the State Tournament. Here’s the game-by-game rundown of what happened.

Hutchinson 8, Maple Plain 1

The Huskies lived up to their top seed billing quickly in round one, dispatching the Diamond Devils 8-1 Aug. 5. Jon DeRock tossed eight innings and allowed seven hits and one run, while Tyler Schiller’s hot bat kept sizzling with a home run.

Leading 4-0 after six innings, the Devils got one back in the top of the seventh, but a four-run eighth by Hutchinson pushed this one out of reach at the end. Jayden Fleck added two RBI while Marcus Hahn and Cody Arlt drove in runs as well.

Howard Lake 3, Loretto 1

The 4/5 matchup in a tournament is often the best game and can go either way. The Orphans got just as much as they needed to win against the higher-seeded Larks of Loretto Aug. 6, taking the game 3-1.

It was a pitcher’s duel from the start, neither team scoring until the fifth inning when Loretto got an RBI hit from Ben Leuthner. Howard Lake’s Jared Koch was masterful getting out of jams with runners on base while his team’s offense came alive just enough to take the lead late in the game.

Noah Bush was 3-for-4 and Jake Gruenhagen drove in two runs for the Orphans. Brad Bickmann added four hits. For the Larks, seven batters got on base but some baserunning mistakes cost them runners.

Buffalo 6, Litchfield 5

Brett Renshaw and Colton Haight were the heroes of the day for the Bulldogs, who scored three runs over the final two innings to beat Litchfield 6-5 in walk-off fashion Aug. 7.

Renshaw’s two-run blast in the eighth tied up the game at 5 after Litch broke a stalemate the inning before. Then Haight  laced an RBI single in the ninth inning to end the game right there for the Buffalo victory.

The two batters combined for four RBI, and Jake Duske added a home run early on. Andrew Loch and Jake Jones drove home four for the Blues.

Delano 6, Maple Lake 5

It’s tough to win when you get outhit 10-5, but the A’s overcame some wild innings to get the last run in extras, defeating the Lakers of Maple Lake 6-5 in 10 frames Aug. 7.

A three-run Toby Hanson bomb in the third inning put Delano up 4-1 and in control, but Maple Lake kept chipping away against reliever Austin Schneider. A run scored in the seventh tied up the game at five, and then a keen eye by the A’s lineup put runners in place to score the winning run. Adam Schleper poked a single through the left side to score Jeff Althoff and walk off on the Lakers.

Hutchinson 6, Howard Lake 3

With a state berth on the line, the Huskies got a stellar outing from Jeremiah Van De Steeg to hold off the Orphans 6-3 Aug. 7 and stay undefeated in the region playoffs.

Tyler Schiller homered for the second time in as many games, and Matt Piechowski, Jake Wendland and Cody Arlt all posted multi-hit games.

Cole Macziewski and Moose Streich tallied the RBI for Howard Lake, but the Orphans couldn’t muster more than one run in an inning to rally back. Brad Bickmann and Brock Goelz added two hits each.

Riley Gruenhagen tossed six innings allowing seven hits, while Van De Steeg went six and one-thirds innings while striking out six batters.

Loretto 8, Maple Plain 7

The Diamond Devils’ season ended in heartbreak in the elimination bracket of Region 12C Aug. 8, falling to Loretto 8-7 on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Maher.

Loretto jumped ahead 5-2 in the first inning with a three-run homer by Josh Gullickson, but Maple Plain wouldn’t fold that easily. They put up four scores in the fifth to take a 7-5 lead with a trio of singles.

Then an outfield error by Maple Plain proved costly in the seventh. Loretto’s Keenan Hodgkin singled home the advanced runners to tie it up, and Maher’s sac fly in the ninth ended another tight Region 12C game, keeping the Larks alive and the Devils eliminated.

Maple Lake 10, Litchfield 2

The Laker offense hummed nearly every inning as they pushed past Litchfield 10-2 Aug. 8 to stay alive in Region 12C elimination bracket play.

Donnie Mavencamp added up three RBI and Ben Clapp had two runs driven in for Maple Lake. Grant Mergen tossed six quality innings to hold down the Blues.

Litchfield had two hits and two RBI by leadoff man Cody Klabunde, but Avery Liestman, Dylan Koll and Jack Ramthun couldn’t hold off a Maple Lake offense that wanted big revenge after a 10-inning loss to Delano the day before.

Delano 9, Buffalo 6

Early offense and shutdown pitching against one of the best lineups in the league helped the A’s reach state qualifier status Aug. 8, defeating the Bulldogs 9-6 behind Mike Weber’s strong start and a couple crooked number offensive innings.

Scott Benjamin had a homer and two RBI for Delano, and all but one batter sprayed a base hit. The A’s walked 10 times to help their on-base percentages, and though they scored nine times they still left on 11 runners.

Weber’s five innings and two runs gave the offense ample time to warm up, and key innings of three and four runs got Delano the lead for good after four innings. A small scare by Buffalo cut the lead to 8-6 after the top of the seventh, but an insurance run and a nice save outing by Jake Nelson clinched the Delano win.

For more Region 12C and amateur baseball coverage, follow @JaredNHR and @Kovar_HJSports on Twitter.

PODCAST: Crow River Valley League Playoff Preview

Herald Journal Sports Editors Kip Kovar and Jared Martinson breakdown all things in the Crow River Valley League heading into the postseason.

Click here to listen now!


AMATEUR BASEBALL: CRVL announces postseason schedule

The regular season for the Crow River Valley League has come to an end. Now it’s time for the 14 teams in the CRVL to compete for the four spots in the Class C State Tournament this year.

Waconia and Plato have already secured their spots at the Region 7C Tournament. The remaining 12 teams will play in a best of three game series begining Tuesday for the final six spots in the Region 7C Tournament. Below is a look at the schedule for the CRVL Playoffs.


(14) New Germany at (3) Watertown, 7:30 p.m.

(13) St. Boni vs. (4) Carver (at Cologne), 7:30 p.m.

(5) Young America at (12) Winsted, 7:30 p.m.


(11) Hamburg vs. (6) Mayer (at Young America), 7:30 p.m.

(7) Cologne at (10) Green Isle, 7:30 p.m.

(9) Glencoe at (8) Brownton, 7:30 p.m.


(3) Watertown vs. (14) New Germany (at Cologne), 7:30 p.m.

(12) Winsted at (5) Young America, 7:30 p.m.

(4) Carver vs. St. Boni (at Watertown), 7:30 p.m.


(6) Mayer at (11) Hamburg, 7:30 p.m.

(10) Green Isle at (7) Cologne, 7:30 p.m.

(8) Brownton at (9) Glencoe, 7:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 1 – GAME 3 (If Neccesary)

Games to be played at 2 p.m. unless fields not available.


For in-game updates, news, and scores throughout the CRVL Playoffs and Region 7C Tournament, follow Herald Journal Sports Editors Kip Kovar and Jared Martinson on Twitter.






AMATEUR BASEBALL: North Star League Playoff Scenarios (July 22)

With five teams in the Herald Journal coverage area, the North Star League is as familiar of an amateur baseball experience as it gets in the neighborhood.

The Delano Athletics, Loretto Larks, Howard Lake Orphans, Dassel-Cokato Saints and Cokato Kernels all partake in the league and Region 12C — and they are scattered throughout the standings with just a couple games left on the regular season schedule. Today we’ll talk through playoff scenarios for all of them and what the greater region standings can result in by July 25 as well.

As of July 22, the standings look like this:

1. Loretto (14-4)

2. Hutchinson (14-4)

3. Delano (13-4)

4. Buffalo (13-5)

5. Howard Lake* (11-8)

6. Litchfield (8-10)

7. Maple Lake (8-11)

8. Maple Plain (7-11)

9. Cokato* (6-14)

10. Dassel-Cokato* (5-14)

11. Montrose/Waverly* (2-16)

*Cannot move up or down in standings

The race for first place

The Loretto Larks picked up a much-needed win over Buffalo Wednesday to earn the advantage in a crammed top-four race. Ace pitcher Colton Petron’s complete game and some timely late offense made it a 7-2 final, the Larks splitting the season series and winning the next tiebreaker by head-to-head runs scored, 18-17. Now Loretto has a game up on Buffalo along with the tiebreaker.

Loretto had Corey Koskie in the lineup Wednesday and he delivered with a solo homer in the eighth inning — if he’s around for region playoffs that adds another big bat to the Larks artillery. They’ll need some reliable starting pitching after Colton Petron during that stretch as well. Look for George Faue and Donny Schroeder will be names to watch in that regard.

Delano beat Loretto twice, but the A’s are in a bit of a slump with three games in three days to finish the season. The Athletics have a big one with Hutch Friday, a rescheduled rematch with recent upstart Maple Plain after that and a finale at home against Litchfield. If Delano wins against Hutch by more than one run, they’ll overtake the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Huskies. They lost the runs scored matchup with Buffalo in a split.

Delano is in deep search of a consistent arm on the mound, and though the lineup is quiet right now, you can’t count out their offense at Municipal Stadium for the entirety of the tournament. Should the Larks take care of business against Maple Lake Friday, they’ll be looking at a possible deciding game with Hutchinson for first place in the season finale. The Huskies would need to beat Loretto by more than five runs to leap them for a tiebreaker.

Hutchinson has the most important schedule left with the chance to clinch an advantage against Delano and get revenge on Loretto. Beating the A’s and knocking off the Larks by more than five runs would earn them the number one seed. I like the Huskies’ balance of solid defense, deeper pitching than the other three teams and enough offense to get the job done.

Buffalo is the only team among the four with five losses as of July 22. They have the offense to fight with anyone (and Cal James will return to the lineup for the playoffs), but they’ll need some things out of their control to break the right way for a chance to get out of the fourth seed. Add James to the hard-hitting lineup of Jake Duske, Justin Johnson, J.D. O’Donnell and Brett Renshaw and that’s a fearsome gauntlet for any pitcher.

The three-way tie scenarios and single four-way tie possibility favor Hutchinson (and Delano) as of this moment. The matchup between Loretto and Hutchinson Sunday will be the last domino to fall in the league leader race.

Maple Plain and simple

Ever since upending Delano a couple weeks back 11-10 at the Muni, the Diamond Devils have found some newfound momentum trying to escape the play-in tournament for the region’s eighth seed.

It’s been an up-and-down league schedule for Maple Plain but one key win and a close loss early on are coming back to help them out. The Devils beat Maple Lake by two runs recently to even the series, and the next applicable tiebreaker between them is record against teams higher in the standings — Maple Plain has that advantage as well.

The Litchfield Blues are dangerously close to dropping behind the Lakers and Devils as well after losing to Maple Plain 5-3 for a total of 8 runs to 7 in the Devils’ favor. For Maple Plain to escape the play-in round, the easiest route would be to win out against Delano and Dassel-Cokato. That gives them nine wins and no worse than a tie with Maple Lake and Litchfield, who lose the tiebreakers.

If the Devils win just one of their last two, they’ll need Litchfield or Maple Lake to lose one more time as well to clinch the seventh seed or better.

Orphans have a home

Few teams in the NSL are playing as well as Howard Lake in the stretch run of the season. Noah Bush is as reliable a leadoff man as any team has, and Brad Bickmann followed by Jared Koch is not a run of easy outs by any means. The Orphans smoked Delano with 21 hits Tuesday night in a 13-2 win. Mike Dockendorf, Koch and Bush are a tough three pitchers to beat on good days, and Howard Lake needs them at the top of their games if they want a state bid from Region 12C.

The Orphans are locked in all alone as the fifth seed. The way they’re playing, I would not want to be the fourth seed playing them in round one of the playoffs. That makes the race between Loretto, Delano, Hutchinson and Buffalo all the more interesting at the top.

In the back of your mind

Howard Lake isn’t the only seed set for the playoffs before the end of the regular season slate. Cokato, Dassel-Cokato and Montrose/Waverly are all locked in as the ninth, 10th and 11th seeds, meaning they’ll play in the four-team tournament to decide who earns the eighth spot in the region tournament. The last team will not be decided until Sunday — it could be Litchfield, Maple Lake or Maple Plain.

Waverly’s two wins are against D-C and Cokato, and Cokato topped D-C twice in the Bike Path Series this year by a combined score of 8-3. We’re guaranteed a third game of that series in the play-in first round July 31 at Cokato and you can expect a possible matchup of Steve Schmitt and Jordan Flick on the mound for that one. Both teams have dangerous hitters at the top of the order, too — will the winner be able to surprise the eighth seed in the next round for the last region tourney spot?

For NSL updates, coverage and more, watch for the latest issues of the Herald Journal, Delano Herald Journal and Dassel-Cokato Enterprise-Dispatch and follow Jared Martinson and Kip Kovar on Twitter: @JaredNHR @Kovar_HJsports

MARTINSON: The NSL is primed for a photo finish

Playoffs get everyone excited, and the North Star League has my attention in my first year covering it.

Let’s set the scene quickly as we enter the final weekend of the regular season (all scenarios as of July 20):

- Delano, Buffalo, Hutchinson and Loretto are all tied for first place with 13-4 records. Buffalo and Loretto face off July 21 at Arnold Klaers Field for a rematch of the high-octane 15-11 Bulldogs win back in June.

- There are a plethora of tiebreakers to follow with these teams all meeting each other in the next couple of days; Delano plays Hutchinson July 23, Loretto plays Hutchinson July 25. We likely won’t know any of the top four standings until Sunday evening.

- Howard Lake just knocked off Delano 13-2 in dominating fashion July 20 on the road. The Orphans are locked in as the fifth seed and I would not want to see them in the region tournament.

- There’s some jostling to be done in the middle of the standings as well. Maple Plain takes on Litchfield July 21 with big implications: if the Diamond Devils win out and either Litchfield or Maple Lake loses out, the Devils can possibly avoid the play-in tournament for the eighth seed in regions.

- Speaking of play-in tournament, Cokato is the first to complete their league schedule and can sit back to watch the drama unfold this week. The Kernels are 6-14 in NSL play and will have a tiebreaker over Dassel-Cokato and Maple Plain for the eighth spot. That means they could play at home for both play-in games if things shake out that way.

- It’s been a hitter’s league all season — who has the luxury of throwing their second or third-best pitchers first to save arms for later? The State bids available in this region could go to the teams that score 40 runs in four games first.

Play-in tourney for the eighth seed begins Saturday, July 31.

For updates and coverage, follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR

AMATEUR BASEBALL: Khan leads Wildcats to huge win

WINSTED – The Winsted Wildcats are a team that knows they need to play their style to come up with wins. They just haven’t always been in a position to this season.

Thanks to a gem on the mound from their ace Shane Khan, the Wildcats got back to their style of play as they picked up a huge 3-0 win over the Glencoe Brewers Tuesday night.

Khan was masterful on the mound for Winsted throughout. He allowed just three hits while striking out 10 as he was in control throughout for the Wildcats.

With Khan rolling on the mound, his offense backed him up. A two-out RBI single from Trent Malone in the bottom of the first gave Winsted an early lead to work with.

Glencoe’s lone threat of the game against Khan came in the top of the fourth. After Korey Johnson led off the inning with a double, Khan worked out of trouble with a strikeout and a pair of fly balls to keep it a 1-0 game.

Winsted went back on the attack in the bottom half after getting out of a jam. Malone led off the inning with a double. Matt Wroge then delivered with an RBI single, making it 2-0 Winsted.

Alex Heimerl would add on one more run for the Wildcats with an RBI single and that was more than enough for Winsted with Khan rolling on the mound.

Malone led the charge at the plate for Winsted going 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Brady Jenkins added a pair of hits

With the win, Winsted improves to 5-13 in the Crow River Valley League. They will close out the regular season at Waconia Sunday.

With the loss, Glencoe falls to 6-12. The Brewers will wrap up the regular season Sunday hosting the New Germany Dutchmen.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports