BY DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
The winter-like early season weather resulted in a late-season log jam of makeup games in the North Star Amateur Baseball League. Matchups with the three local teams will be on the busy week’s schedule.
For example, Rockford is in a stretch of playing seven games in six days. The River Bandits lost to DC 15-5 Sunday, faced Mound Monday and Buffalo Wednesday in a double header. Rockford takes on Delano at the Loretto Field, 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, plays Loretto at Loretto, 2 p.m. Saturday, July 20 and could finally end the regular season at Montrose, 2 p.m. Sunday, July 21.
Delano has three of its last four regular season games at Loretto against three different teams. The A’s faced Loretto Wednesday, after this issue went to press, and will play Rockford at Loretto Friday. After playing at home against DC, 6 p.m. Saturday, Delano goes back to the Loretto field for a 1 p.m. game against Mound.
Loretto was home to Delano Wednesday and Rockford Saturday. The Larks end the regular season with a double header at Maple Plain starting at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The top seven teams in the C Division qualify for the Region 12 playoffs at Howard Lake July 31 to Aug. 11. The final spot will be decided by a playoff between the last five teams starting July 24. The state tournament is Aug. 16 to Sept. 2 at Delano and Maple Lake.
Loretto (12-6) and Delano (13-7) have secured places in the Region playoff with Rockford needing to win the league playoff to advance. Defending state champ Maple Lake leads the way at 18-3, followed by Howard Lake at 14-5 and Maple Plain at 13-5.
Delano faced all three of the top teams last week. In the 11-10 come from behind victory over Maple Plain, Zach Muchenhirn led the slugfest by going 5 for 5. He also pitched the first six innings.
Ryan Hayes slammed out three hits, with two hits each by Joey Althoff, Toby Hanson, Hunter Hart and Josh Muchenhirn, whose 2-run double in the top of the ninth pushed home the winning run. Delano trailed by four entering the last inning before scoring five.
The A’s trailed a strong Howard Lake squad by just 5-4 in the eighth when yielding six runs. Trevor Jaunich returned from his hamstring injury to pitch the first six innings, but did not bat. Hanson had three hits and Kevin Jaunich added two hits. The Muchenhirns were not available.
Delano lost a double header to state champ Maple Lake 6-1 and 3-2, collecting just four hits in each game. Aaron Swenson and Matt Arens both pitched all seven innings in their games.
Rockford edged Cokato 5-3 when Jason Lesser pitched a complete game. Nick Main was 2-4 with 2 RBIs. Trent Bestland had the game-winning hit with a 2-run double in the last inning. Anthony Brenner had two hits, including a double.
In the 6-3 loss to Hutchinson, Jake Gleason pitched seven shutout innings, but gave up back to back home runs in the bottom of the eighth. The bullpen yielded four more runs.
Ian Keen was 2-4 with a home run and Brenner drove home a run with a double. Main also went 2 for 4 with a double.
River Bandit coach Ryan Rassatt said he had to go with pitching by committee in the 15-5 loss to DC Sunday as fielders took turns on the mound. Main powered the offense by going 3 for 4, while Brion and Keen both had two hits.
Loretto edged Mound 3-2 behind the pitching of Nathan Maher, who worked all nine innings, allowing just seven hits. The game was tied in the last of the ninth when Kent Koch drove home the game-winner with a sacrifice fly. Herb Koch Jr. had two hits and Luke Steinbach added an RBI double.
The Larks dominated Buffalo 15-1 Friday in league action as bats finally came alive according to coach Herb Koch. He said his team had not been hitting like normal, resulting in some defeats that were not expected.
Troy Beckman pitched all seven innings against Buffalo. The offensive explosion was paced by Tyler Maher, who was 4 for 4 with 7 RBIs and scored five times. His 3-run homer hit off the top of the scoreboard. Brandon Scanlon was 3 for 3 and Nate Maher was 2 for 4 in the 13-hit attack.
With four games to play, Koch said his team still had a chance to be the No. 2 seed in the Region tournament, which would be of some help. The Larks were one win behind Maple Plain and two behind Howard Lake.