Bratland lifts Lions past L/P in first SEC showdown

Lion teammates welcome home Carter Bratland after his two-RBI home run. The third-inning blast was the game-deciding hit in the 2-0 conference victory over Lyle/Pacelli. Photo by Aimee Murphy
S. Lee Epps

Carter Bratland batted and pitched the Spring Grove boys to two victories last week, starting with a critical 2-0 conference conquest of visiting Lyle/Pacelli on Tuesday, April 23, one day after being rained out at defending conference champion Randolph.

In a wet and wild week, the Thursday game was moved to Spring Grove due to wet conditions at Houston. The Lions hammered the Hurricanes 14-3, one day before Bratland continued his mastery on the mound with a one-hit, 7-0 home shutout of Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger.

In 10 innings of pitching last week, Bratland (4-0) struck out 22 batters and walked only two while allowing a mere four hits and no, zero, zilch, nada runs. He also went 5 for 11 at the plate with a game-winning home run.

The Lions committed only four errors during 19 innings of baseball last week.

In what appears to be a four-team race in the eight-team conference, undefeated Spring Grove (6-0, 5-0 SEC) closed the week tied for the league lead with SEC newcomer Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland (8-1, 5-0 SEC). Last week, the Bulldogs handed Randolph its first conference setback in two seasons and also won a one-run nail-biter against L/P.

This week and next

Weather permitting, the Lions hosted Mabel-Canton on Monday and the rematch with Schaeffer Academy on Tuesday of this week before back-to-back SEC showdowns with Randolph. The Rockets host the makeup game on Thursday, May 2, and then come to Blayne Onsgard Memorial Field the next afternoon.

Spring Grove then visits Mabel-Canton on Tuesday, May 7.

SG 2, L/P 0

The only runs were scored with a Bratland home run, and the game ended with the all-league Lion junior striking out the Athletics' cleanup hitter with the bases loaded - the potential tying run at second base and the potential go-ahead run at first. It was the first league loss for L/P (5-1, 2-1 SEC), which left 10 runners on base.

"Story of the game has to be Carter Bratland," said Lion coach Chris Strinmoen. "Not only did he generate the only runs of the game (2-run home run), but he also shut down L/P on the mound; 11 strikeouts in four innings of relief is definitely getting the job done, especially when put into an unexpected situation. L/P is a solid team, and this was a big conference win for us.

"Alex (Folz) gave us a good start, but left with some arm soreness. I think he'll be OK, but we'll keep an eye on it and give him whatever rest he may need to feel better. He did a great job executing one of our 'pick' plays to get out of a jam in the third inning."

Folz picking off a runner at first base, with runners on both first and second, ended that third-inning threat.

Bratland's big blow came with one out in the third inning after Caleb Nerstad had singled and stolen second base.

That homer spoiled an otherwise strong mound performance by sophomore Zach Bollingberg, who struck out eight batters and walked only two.

Bollingberg gave up only five hits - two to Bratland and one each to Nerstad, Noah Elton and Kyle Hagen.

But Lion hurlers allowed only five hits as well, including two each to sophomore Cole Walter and senior Tanner Murphy.

Neither team committed an error.

In the eighth grade game, both Caleb Griffin and Logan Brumm hit over-the-fence home runs in a 4-2 win. The seventh grade game ended in a 4-4 tie, halted by the time limit.

SG 2, L/P 0

L/P,..000 000  0 - 0  5  0

SG…002 000  0 - 2  5  0

LOB: SG 4, L/P 10

WP-Bratland, LP-Bollingberg

Folz 3 IP, 2h, 0R, 4k, 4W

Bratland 4 IP, 3 IP, 3H, 0R, 011K, 2W

Bergrud 0 IP, 0H, 0R, 0K, 0W

Bollingberg 6 IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 8K, 2W


SG 14, Houston 3

It was a rough start with two Lion errors, a walk and a Hurricane single leading to a 2-0 lead for the visitors.

But the Lions roared back with 10 runs in the bottom of that first inning with back-to-back doubles from Chandler Bergrud and Folz taking advantage of Houston walks, errors and wild pitches.

"What a crazy day. We turned an away game into a home game due to the rainy weather. We were able to get our field ready to play after Houston's was deemed unplayable. It actually turned out to be a nice night for baseball.

"I was really happy to see the bats come to life," said Strinmoen. "We've been getting great pitching and good defense, and I told the guys it was time to let our offense carry us for a game. The bats got going tonight, and I hope we can carry the momentum into the next week."

The Lions would finish with 11 hits, including five extra-base knocks. There was a triple from Nerstad (2 for 2, 3 RBIs), a double from Elton and another two-bagger from Bergrud (2 for 3).

Payton Leahy drive in three runs while going 2 for 3 at the plate; Bratland (2 for 4) and Hagen (1 for 2) each drove in a run and also scored twice.

Nic Peterson earned the pitching win in relief, allowing four hits while striking out three in three innings.

Senior Alex Alfson absorbed the loss, blown away during the Lions' early 10-run outburst.

Jaytin Millen (2 for 2) had two of the 'Canes’ five hits. Sophomore Caiden Olson's double was the lone extra-base hit.

It was the fifth straight loss for Houston (1-5, 1-4 SEC).

The Lions posted shutouts in both junior high games. The eighth graders won 10-0 in three innings, while the seventh graders claimed a 7-0 decision in four innings.

SG 14, Houston 3

Hou..20-1  00 - 3   5   4

SG...(10)00  3x -14 11  3

LOB: Hou 5, SG 6

WP-Peterson, LP-Alfson

Bergrud 2 IP, 1H, 2E, 0 ER, 2K, 1W

Peterson 3 IP, 4H, 1R, 1 ER, 3K, 2W

Folz 0 IP, 0H, 0R 0K, 0W

Prahl 0 IP, 0H, 0R, 0K, 0W

Alfson 0 IP, 1H, 7R, 7ER, 0K, 4W

Hongerholt 3 IP, 11H, 7R, 3ER, 2K, 1W


SG 7, GE/AC 0

"Another great start from Carter Bratland. Anytime you can hold a team to one hit and zero walks, you have a high chance of winning," said Strinmoen. "He continues to make it easy on our defense with high strikeout totals as well (11)."

It was Bratland's second 11-strikeout performance against the Wolverines this season.

"It was nice to score early again - four in the first inning", added Strinmoen, "because it takes some of the pressure off the pitcher. 

"However, our bats went a little quiet for a few innings. I think it's easy to get overanxious and press a little at the plate, instead of just letting the game come to you."

The Lions wasted no time with a four-run first frame, highlighted by a 2-RBI double by Bergrud along with singles from Bratland and Nerstad.

Spring Grove tagged Wolverine starter Carter Dahlum for eight eights with Isaac Griffin going 2 for 3. Folz (RBI) and Peterson also hit safely.

Elton had the great grab on defense with a head-first, diving catch of a sinking line drive into right field.

Folz, at catcher, picked off a runner at second base with an assist from Peterson (shortstop) and the tag out by Nerstad at third base. 

The Lions completed an SEC sweep of GE/AC with an earlier 11-5 win at Glenville. The Wolverines left at 3-6 (3-5 SEC).

The Spring Grove B-team posted a 4-0 shutout, also completing a sweep of GE/AC.

SG 7, GE/AC 0

GE/AC...000  000  0 - 0  1 7

SG…….401  002  x - 7  8 1

LOB: SG 8, GE/AC 4

WP-Bratland, LP-Dahlum

Bratland 6 IP, 1H, 0R, 11K, 0W

Dahlum 5.2 IP, 8H, 7R, 4 ER, 3K, 3W

Gerber 0.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 0K, 0W




Southeast Conference Baseball 2019 (updated since print edition)

Spring Grove……….6-0 SEC (7-0 season)

GMLOK……………..5-0 SEC (8-2 season)

Randolph……………3-1 SEC (5-1 season)

Lyle/Pacelli…………3-2 SEC (6-2 season)

G-E/A-C…………….3-5 SEC (3-6 season)

Houston…………….2-4 SEC (2-6 season)

Schaeffer Academy.2-5 SEC (2-6 season)

Mabel-Canton……..0-7 SEC (0-8 season)


Spring Grove varsity baseball (7-0, 6-0 SEC) updated since print edition

W at Schaeffer Academy 11-1

W vs. Wabasha-Kellogg 6-1

W at Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 11-5

4/22 at Randolph, ppd to 5/02

W vs. Lyle/Pacelli 2-0

W vs. Houston 14-3

W vs. Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 7-0

W vs. Mabel-Canton 11-1

4/30 Schaeffer Academy

5/02 at Randolph

5/03 Randolph

6/06 at Southland

5/07 at Mabel-Canton

5/10 vs. GMLOK (at Luther College) doubleheader

5/14 at Lyle/Pacelli (at Austin)

5/16 Houston

5/17 Rushford-Peterson


B-team (3-1)

W at Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 7-4

L vs. Caledonia 3-9

W vs. Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 4-90

W vs. Mabel-Canton 3-1


Eighth grade (5-1)

W at Caledonia 4-2

L at Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 1-7

W at GMLOK 6-1

W vs. Lyle/Pacelli 4-2

W vs. Houston 10-0

W vs. Mabel-Canton


Seventh grade (3-2-1)

W at Caledonia 6-4

L at Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 5-6

W at GMLOK 9-6

T vs. Lyle/Pacelli 4-4

W vs. Houston 7-0