Lions allow only two runs in first two games

LEFT: Spring Grove takes a 2-0 lead as Kyle Hagen slides into home on a passed ball. Defending is Wabasha-Kellogg pitcher Max Kuntz. RIGHT: Lion base runner Alex Folz forces a Falcon into the air at second base. Defending for W-K are Chase Holtorf (left) and Klayton Hawkins. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
Lee Epps

Spring Grove, after being snowed out early in the week, finally opened the baseball season with two late-week wins, starting with an 11-1 conference decision at Rochester against Schaeffer Academy on April 5.

They were scheduled the next afternoon to face Wabasha-Kellogg at the home of the St. Paul Saints. But rain and wet grounds forced that game to be moved to Spring Grove where the Lions defeated the Falcons 6-1. It was the first varsity contest back at Blayne Onsgard Field since the 2018 season ended with a playoff loss to W-K.

Strong performances by pitchers and base runners were keys to success for Spring Grove (2-0, 1-0 SEC).

SG 11, Schaeffer 1

The Lions never trailed but did not create some comfort until socking it away with seven runs in the final seventh inning.

"It was great to start the season off with a win today" said coach Chris Strinmoen. "Carter (Bratland) did a tremendous job on the mound, giving us the start we needed. And Alex (Folz) and Caleb (Nerstad) finished the game off as planned. It took a while for the bats to get going, but we finally broke it open in the seventh inning. 

"Up until then, we took advantage of Schaeffer Academy's errors, and ran the bases well to score when we had the opportunities. Overall, it was a good start to the season."

Chandler Bergrud batted 3 for 4 with a triple, a double and a single. Noah Elton drove in two runs while going 2 for 3. Folz stole three bases and scored three times.

A bases-loaded double by Bratland cleared the bases in the big seventh inning. Five of Grove's eight hits came during that seventh-frame eruption, including singles by Kyle Hagen and Payton Leahy (RBI).

Bratland struck out 10 batters and walked only three while giving up only one hit and one earned run during four innings to pick up the pitching decision. Folz fanned four batters in only two innings of relief.

Riley Gora (6 strikeouts, no walks) took the loss for the home team.

Two errors sent Spring Grove off to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Grove guys added a third run in the third inning (3-0) and made it 4-1 in the fifth. All four runs had scored without a base hit. Overall, Schaeffer donated seven errors; SG had two miscues.

After being swept by Randolph earlier in the week, Schaeffer slipped to 0-3 (0-3 SEC).

SG 11, Schaeffer Academy 1

SG  201 010  7 -11  8   2

SA  001 000  0 - 1   3   7

LOB: SG 8, SA 6

WP-Bratland, LP-R. Gora

Bratland 4 IP,1H, 1R, 1 ER,10K, 3W

Folz 2 IP, 0H, 0R, 4K, 0W

Nerstad 1 IP, 2H, 1R, 1 ER, 2K, 0W

R. Gora 4.1 IP, 3H,3R, 0 ER, 6K, 0W

N. Gora 2.2 IP, 5H, 8R, 7ER, 3K, 0W


SG 6, Wabasha-Kellogg 1

Again, the Lions never trailed but managed only three base hits. However, Folz tossed a two-hitter, striking out 11 while walking only three. Nerstad again closed it out, getting the final two outs with ground balls.

The first Lion batter of the game, Nic Peterson, was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on an RBI single from second batter Bratland.

The only other two Spring Grove hits came with back-to-back singles by Leahy and Elton as the Lions extended their 3-1 lead into a 5-1 advantage in the fifth inning.

All four Falcon pitchers were on the mound during that half-inning.

Bergrud drew his third walk and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Isaac Griffin in the sixth inning to account for the final score.

The Falcons had scored with a two-out double, a stolen base and a throwing error to get within one run (2-1) in the second inning. 

The Lions quickly reclaimed the two-run edge in the bottom of the inning with an unearned run on a most bizarre play that featured two base runners and three stolen bases. Folz scored stole third base and home while Bergrud was swiping second.

An infield single in the seventh was the only other base hit for Wabasha-Kellogg.

Spring Grove batters received 11 free passes from seven walks and four hit batters, but the Lions stranded 10 base runners. They left the bases loaded in two innings.

W-K (0-2) is a relatively young squad with only one senior in the batting order along with three juniors, four sophomores and a freshman.

The junior high season began on a brutally cold afternoon in Caledonia with a doubleheader sweep of the Warriors. With a three-RBI, over-the-fence home run by Caleb Griffin, the Lion eighth graders took the lead and eventually won 4-2. Griffin was also the winning pitcher.

In a 6-4 seventh grade victory, Jaxon Strinmoen struck out eight batters in the first two innings (two reached base on passed balls).

SG 6, Wabasha-Kellogg 1

WK  001 000  0 - 1  2  4

SG  111 021  x - 6  3  3

LOB: SG 10, WK 6

WP-Folz, LP-Kuntz

Folz 6.1 IP, 3, 1R, 0 ER, 11K, 3W

Nerstad 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0R, 0K, 1W

Kuntz 4.1 IP, 3H, 5R, 4 ER, 6K, 4W

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

Busch 0 IP, 0H, 0R, 0K, 2W

Wodele 1.1 IP, 0H, 1R, 0 ER, 3K, 0W


This week and next

Last week's snowed-out game at Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger was being made up as the Herald was going to press on Monday of this week.

Weather could again be a factor when the boys are slated to play at Randolph on Thursday, April 11 and then host a recently-added contest against Lewiston-Altura on Friday at 4:45 p.m.

The Lions host Lyle/Pacelli on Tuesday, April 23.