5/23/2013 3:41:00 PM Wildcats win long-awaited county battle with NB
by CHUCK FITZER
The Wildcats broke open a close game with five runs in the top of the fourth inning and went on to beat the Vikings 8-2 last Wednesday, May 15. The game was a home game for the Vikings, but was played at night at Chisago Lakes because of scheduling issues. It was the second game of the day for the Vikings, who had played at Irondale and won earlier in the afternoon. Wildcat Will Gillach was hit by a pitch to lead off the game. One out later, Matt Hasselquist blasted a ball over the head of Viking right fielder Blake Jorgenson.
The ball rolled all the way to the wall. Gillach scored on the play and Hasselquist ended up on second with a double. But Viking starting pitcher Charlie Linder got Wildcat Kellen Reed to ground out and struck out Joe Davis to end the Wildcat threat. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Vikings Michael Naggatz and Jacob Kari reached on consecutive errors by the Wildcat infield. Jake Schmitz ripped a single to left to score Naggatz and tie the game at 1-1. Linder grounded back to pitcher Kellen Reed to end the inning. Wildcat Jake Sandgren led off the top of the third with a single to right and went to second when Gillach walked. With a 2-2 count on Ryan Biernath, the Wildcats attempted a double steal. Biernath struck out and Viking catcher Jake Pilz’s throw nailed Sandgren at third for a double play. Gillach was safe at second. Hasselquist reached on an error and, as the ball dribbled into center field, Gillach scored to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. With the score still at 2-1, the Wildcats went to work in the top of the fourth.
Davis doubled down the right field line to lead off the inning and was replaced by courtesy runner Hunter Lindstrom. Mitch Berg followed with a single to center. The Vikings missed the cutoff on the play and Berg took second. Dylan Magnuson hit a grounder to third and reached on an error, loading the bases. Pinch hitter Mark Sontag hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Lindstrom. The first pitch to Sandgren went all the way to the backstop, moving up both runners. With a 1-2 count, Sandgren surprised the Vikings and all the fans and reporters in attendance by laying down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt. Berg scored and the Wildcats now led 4-1 with two outs. A double to left by Gillach and a single to right by Biernath drove in two more runs. Hasselquist singled and Reed’s double to right drove in one more run to push the Wildcat lead to 8-1. Wildcat Berg drove in a run in the top of the sixth with a sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the seventh, Viking Benolken reached second on a one out error. He went to second on an infield ground out and scored on a wild pitch. Matt Solberg walked. But Wildcat reliever Louis Kastenbauer got Viking Nick Pilz to hit a grounder back to him and Kastenbauer flipped it to first to end the game. Wildcat starter Kellen Reed struggled through the first two innings, but settled down and was lights out after that.
Over the next three innings, he struck out six batters and allowed no hits or walks. “At 6’6” and 220, Kellen can be kind of intimidating on the mound,” said Wildcat head coach Pat Collins. “He throws hard and has a good curve ball. Once the curve started working in the third inning, he was dominant. North Branch is a good baseball team and they hit the ball well early in the game. I think the twilight may have been a factor in how well the batters could see the ball, too.”