BY DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Rockford finished what baseball coach Randy Griffith calls an “incredibly short season” when losing 2-0 to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted in the first round of the Section 5AA tournament last week.
Meanwhile, Delano earned a bye in the first round of the tourney after earning the No. 1 sub-section seed. The first game was slated for Tuesday, May 28, after this issue went to press.
The Tigers had been off since defeating Orono 9-0 May 20. The league finale against Hutchinson was canceled because it ended up being too close to the start of the playoffs.
If Delano defeated Mound-Westonka Tuesday, the next came was set for Wednesday, May 29 at Loretto against either No. 2 Providence Academy or No. 3 Fridley. The tournament then moves to Delano for the battle between sub-section champs on June 3. The title game is set for June 6. Consolation games are June 3 and 4.
The Tigers finished the regular season on a strong note by scoring nine runs on 10 hits and had no errors against Orono to be 13-2 on the season. Senior Adam Schleper pitched a 3-hitter and helped the offense by going 2 for 4 with a double. Zach Muchenhirn had two doubles and Hunter Hart drove in three runs when going 2 for 3 with a double.
Junior Toby Hanson batted .523 in the regular season with 23 hits, seven homers and seven doubles. Jon Dahl had 20 hits to bat .417. Muchenhirn added 18 hits and Schleper had 16. Muchenhirn also pitched 21 innings, going 3-0 with three saves and a 1.62 earned run average. Schleper was 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA in 19 innings.
Rockford started the season April 29 and concluded May 24. Griffith said it is “the shortest season on record, to be sure.” The Rockets ended the regular season by splitting a double header against Eden Valley-Watkins.
George Faue pitched in the 8-4 win. Nick Tully drove in two key runs and Tommy Traen scored twice. Brock Deering pitched well in the 3-1 second game loss. Ben Arens drove in the lone Rocket run
Rockford earned the sixth sub-section seed in the playoffs and had to face No. 3 HLWW. The Rockets trailed 1-0 after five tense innings, despite having several runners in scoring position.
“Faue pitched a wonderful game, giving up only one earned run while striking out six and walking none,” said Griffith. “It was a tough way to end the season, but it is something to build on for next year with eight of the nine starting position players returning along with the entire pitching staff.”
Griffith said season highlights included the pitching staff posting the lowest earned run average in the past 12 years. Faue was among the Metro area leaders in both strikeouts and ERA and twice was named conference player of the week.
Both Deering and Brendon Schumacher batted over .500 to pace the offense. Deering also had an ERA of below 1.50 as a pitcher.
Returning starters include catcher Brady Boeddeker, infielders Deering, Tully, Drew VanDehey and Aaron Pietsch plus outfielders Schumacher, Tommy Reinking, Traen and Joe Agre. Faue returns to lead the pitchers.