Lions sweep three series, set up title showdown

By : 
Stephen Lee Epps

There were two outs and the bases loaded with Spring Grove trailing by one run in the sixth inning when Noah Elton launched the second pitch to deep right center field to put the Lions ahead 5-3. That 3-RBI double in game one propelled SG to a May 8 double header sweep of previously undefeated Lyle/Pacelli in a clash of conference co-leaders.

The previous day, the Lions had completed a 14-2 suspended game win and season sweep at Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger. The week ended with a Saturday afternoon home twin bill sweep of Houston (8-1 and 10-0), which replaced both the Friday rainout at Houston and also the May 18 home game against the Hurricanes. 

The team is assured of the first winning record in 16 seasons (since 1996) as a stand-alone program. The Lions ended the week at 10-1 overall and 9-0 in the SEC, setting up the May 15 home double header SEC showdown against undefeated Randolph (9-0, 7-0 SEC).


In that twin bill versus the Rockets, played after the Herald went to press, the Lions were seeking to nail down their first conference crown in 29 years (since 1989). SG also has a May, 17 SEC trip to Rochester to face Schaeffer Academy, a team the Lions edged 1-0 three weeks ago. 

The regular season closes with a Monday, May 21 non-conference bus ride to West Salem for a rematch versus Coulee Region Christian.



"We had left with a small lead of 5-2 the previous Tuesday," said Strinmoen of the suspended game that was resumed a week later. "Our bats made sure it wasn't going to stay close for long. We scored three times right after getting off the bus and scored three more times in the next inning.

"Our pitchers kept them in check, and we just kept coming at them with our bats. We saw our first "over-the-fence" home runs off the bats of Alex (Folz) and Noah. The guys were pretty fired up after that."

Elton (2-for-3) also had an RBI-double in a 14-hit barrage that also saw two hits from Folz, Adin Solum (double) Sam Sanness and Nic Peterson.

Nine SG batters had base hits, including a Chandler Bergrud double and singles from Isaac Griffin, Payton Leahy and Carter Bratland.

Bratland got the win, striking out 10 and walking only one. Folz faced five batters in relief, striking out four. 

G-E/A-C (0-5) had only two base hits, both singles - one on the first Tuesday and one a week later.

SG      400  430  3 -14  14 1

GEAC 002  000  0 - 2  2   4

LOB: SG 14, GEAC 4

WP-Bratland, LP-Nelson

Bratland 4.1 IP, 2H, 2R, 0ER, 10K, 1W

Folz 1.2 IP, 0H, 0R, 4K, 0W

Peterson 1 IP, 0H, 0R, 1K, 0W

Nelson 3.2 IP, 8H, 7R, 7ER, 4K, 6W

Robertson 3.1 IP, 6H, 7R, 6ER, 4K, 6W



"What a wild and crazy finish to what was a quick, well-played game for five innings," said coach Chris Strinmoen. "The top of the fifth saw us give a few runs away due to some poor fielding plays. And then Lyle/Pacelli returned the favor with a big misplay in the bottom half.

"That set the stage for Noah Elton's huge double that cleared the bases with two outs and gave us our lead back.

"I also have to give a lot of credit to Alex on the mound. He held a good team to only two hits and managed to keep his pitch count down, so he could finish the whole game (pitch count rule)."

SG managed only three hits off Taylor Arett, including an RBI- double from Sanness to put the Lions ahead 1-0 in the first inning.

The Athletics tied the score with the aid of an error in the fourth inning and then added two runs in the sixth to go up 3-1 with help from two Lion errors.

In the game-changing bottom of the inning, SG loaded the bases with a Folz single and two walks with no outs. But a strikeout, a ground ball force out and a subsequent error set the stage for Elton's big blast.

The tying run came to the plate for L/P before a game-ending double-play ball to shortstop.

L/P 000  102  0 - 3 2  1

SG  100  004  x - 5  3 3

LOB: L/P 3, SG 3

WP- Folz, LP- Arett

Folz 7 IP, 2H, 3R, 1ER, 9K, 4W

Arett 6 IP, 3H, 5R, 5ER, 6K, 5W



"Carter followed up Alex with a very impressive outing of his own: 11 strikeouts, 2 hits and 2 walks against a team like L/P is job well done," said Strinmoen. "I'm sure he'd agree that it was probably his best game he's ever pitched."

It was the third consecutive two-hitter for the pitching staff.

As the visiting team in this nightcap, SG jumped ahead quickly 3-0 with a single from Folz, an RBI-double from Peterson and an RBI-triple by Solum.

"It was really nice to jump out to an early lead in this one," added the coach. "It made the guys relax a little bit, and they were able to perform at a high level."

Three hits (Griffin, Folz, Peterson) produced two runs in the second inning to add a little breathing room. 

Peterson drove in two runs while batting 3 for 4 with a double while Griffin went 2 for 4 with an RBI-triple. 

Folz was also 2 for 4, and Sanness doubled home the seventh run in the seventh.

The 11-hit attack also included singles from Bratland and Elton

A defensive highlight came in the  fourth when Solum ran down a fly ball in the outfield and fired home to get an L/P runner who had tagged up at third base.

"Not only did we get a couple of wins against a very good team, but it also put us a step closer towards a possible conference title," concluded Strinmoen.

Suffering its first losses, L/P left at 5-2 (4-2 SEC).

SG   320  011  0 - 7  11 1

L/P  001  000  0 - 1   2  3

LOB: SG 8, L/P 4

WP- Bratland, LP- Bollingberg

Bratland 7 IP, 2H. 1R, 1ER. 11K, 2W

Bollingberg 6 IP, 11H, 7R, 3ER, 9K, 1W

Nelson 1 IP, 0H, 0R, 1K, 1W



"Another real nice pitching performance from Alex," said Strinmoen. “He had eight strikeouts and gave up only two hits, but zero walks was the stat I was most happy about.

"Payton (2 for 2, RBI) swung the bat well today and had his hand in three of the runs. It was good to see us put runs up every inning and put pressure on them. In a short-five-inning game, that's what you need to do."

Other hits came from Peterson, Folz, Solum and Sanness. Folz was also robbed of an extra-base hit with a diving catch by Hurricane left fielder Cade Roth.

The Lions took control with three runs in the second, aided by six walks and three scores on wild pitches.

Hou  000  01 - 1 4  2

SG   131  3x - 8 6  1

LOB: Hou 4, SG 7

WP-Folz, LP-Happel

Folz 4 IP, 2H, 0R, 8K, 0W

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

Happel; 3.2 IP, 4H, 7R, 7ER, 5K, 9W

Olson 0.1 IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 0W



SG had six hits and committed one error; Houston had one hit and six errors.

Sanness had a double that the Lion coach and former player on the same field said "may be the hardest hit ball I've ever seen on our field. It was loud, and it got over the center fielder's head very quickly. I've been impressed with his strength at the plate."

Bratland batted 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Elton (double), Leahy, and Folz also had base hits. 

For Houston (4-9, 4-7 SEC), hurler Joey Fishel struck out seven, walked only two and gave up only one earned run. But he was backed buy a defense that committed six errors.

Bratland and Caleb Nerstad combined to toss a one-hitter. When Bratland reached the pitch-count limit, Nerstad came in to earn the decision, facing only seven batters with only one reaching base (hit batter).

"Caleb has done a wonderful job for us this year out of the bullpen," said Strinmoen." He's extremely valuable to us in that reliever position."

SG   141  04 -10  6  1

Hou  000  00  - 0  1 6

LOB: SG 4, Hou 6

WP-Nerstad, LP-Fishel

Bratland 2.2 IP, 1H, 0R, 3K, 3W

Nerstad 2.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 2K, 0W

Fishel 4 IP, 4H, 6R, 1ER, 7K, 2W

Millen 1 IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 1K, 4W

SEC Baseball (updates since print edition to include May 14 & 15 games)

Randolph………………9-0 (11-0 season)

Spring Grove…………9-2 (10-3 season)

Lyle/Pacelli…………..7-3 (8-4 season)

Schaeffer Academy..4-5 (8-5 season)

Houston………………..4-8 (4-10 season)

G-E/A-C………………..1-9 (1-11 season)

Mabel-Canton……….0-7 (1-10 season)


May 15 – Randolph 4, SG 1 and Randolph 8, SG 4

>>>Spring Grove 10-3 (9-2 SEC) through May 15 games

W vs. Mabel-Canton 13-1

W vs. Schaeffer Academy 1-0

W vs. Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 5-4

W at Mabel-Canton 16-2

L at Rushford-Peterson 3-9

W vs. Coulee Region Christian 16-0

W vs. Lyle/Pacelli 5-3

W vs. Lyle/Pacelli 7-1

W at Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 14-2

W vs. Houston 8-1

W vs. Houston 10-0

L vs. Randolph 1-4

L vs. Randolph 4-8

May 17 at Schaeffer Academy

May 21 at Coulee Region Christian