Maple Grove won twice in the losers’ bracket of Section 5 baseball last week to stay alive. Only four teams remain alive entering this week: Coon Rapids, Champlin Park, Centennial and Maple Grove.
The Crimson defeated Park Center 9-5 on May 27. They jumped out to an early lead thanks to a first inning rally that saw four runs cross the plate on an RBI double by Blake Whitecotton, a two-run error, and a wild pitch.
Offensively, Maple Grove’s Ben Osborn went 2-3, with two RBI’s and Whitecotton finished 2-3, with three RBI’s.
Pitcher Brett Schulze shut down Park Center while he was on the mound. The Pirates managed just one hit off of the freshman right-hander, who allowed no earned runs, walked three and struck out seven during his 5 2/3 innings of work.
A three-run seventh inning helped bring Park Center within four, but relief pitcher Mitchell Scott closed out the game for the save.
FRANTA DELIVERS IN 3-1 WIN OVER TOTINO GRACE
Senior centerfielder Joe Franta drove in all three runs with one swing of the bat as Maple Grove took home a 3-1 victory over third-seeded Totino Grace May 30 at the University of Minnesota Siebert Field.
Down one run in the bottom of the fifth inning, Franta delivered an inside the park three-run homer propelling the Crimson to victory.
Riley Byland in relief looked sharp on the mound. Totino Grace managed just one hit off of Byland, who allowed no earned runs, walked two and struck out two during his three innings of work.
Brett Schluze picked up the save in the top of the seventh as he faced the tying run at the plate with only one out. A ground ball to third-baseman Osborn resulted in a game-ending double-play.
“This is an exciting part of the season,” said Crimson Coach Darby Carlson. “We are starting to have players step up and deliver in pressure situations and it’s fun to watch.”