Record set with 7-0 start; title hopes fade with losses

LEFT: Noah Elton preserves tie score with spectacular catch in right field at Randolph. RIGHT: Caleb Nerstad applies the tag, but Randolph runner Dane Ehleringer was ruled safe at third base. Photos by S. Lee Epps
S. Lee Epps

The Spring Grove baseball boys extended a school-record winning streak and fell precipitously out of the league lead all in the same week. 

Last week began with a record seventh straight season-opening win and tied atop the conference baseball standings, but then three straight losses all but ended Lion title hopes. They fell victim to two very strong opposing pitchers sandwiched around an error-plagued setback. 

The week began at home with a six-inning, run-rule 11-1 win over winless Mabel-Canton. But there would not be a run-rule repeat when visiting Schaeffer Academy earned a season split with a 9-3 decision.

The highly anticipated two games versus defending SEC champion Randolph were rescheduled as a May 2 road-trip double header.

The Rockets scored late to overtake the error-prone Lions 11-6 in the first game and then scored early in the 5-0 nightcap shutout.

The next day, the Rockets (9-1, 6-1 SEC) won for a fourth time in three days, all but eliminating Lyle/Pacelli from the title chase. Randolph and conference newcomer GMLOK (11-2, 8-0 SEC) now appear to be the surviving title contenders.

The week ended with the Lions licking their wounds at 7-3 overall and 6-3 in the SEC, three games behind in the loss column with five SEC games to play. 

Spring Grove had never in seven decades won seven straight games to open the season. It has been 31 years since the last seven-game winning streak in 1988. The 1974 Lions had fashioned the first seven-game streak.

SG 11, Mabel-Canton 1

Sparking a 15-hit attack, Chandler Bergrud drove in three runs and scored twice while batting 3 for 4 with a triple, double and single. Noah Elton also went 3 for 4 with a triple and four RBIs.

Bergrud and winning pitcher Caleb Nerstad each gave up a single while combining for the two-hit, run-rule victory. Nerstad earned the pitching decision in four innings of relief.

The Lions led 5-0 in the third inning when the Cougars (0-8, 0-7 SEC) scored their only run with a walk, an infield hit and a ground-out RBI.

It was up and down for Spring Grove batters. In the nine-player batting order, six struck out, but seven had base hits. There were two triples and two doubles.  

Carter Bratland (double), Alex Folz and Caden Grinde each batted 2 for 3. Other hits came from Nerstad, Kyle Hagen and Payton Leahy.

The game ended with the 10-run rule when the Lions added three runs with no outs in the bottom of the sixth.

The Lions won the B-team game, 3-1.

SG 11, Mabel-Canton 1

MC   001 000 - 1   2   4

SG   321 023 -11  15  2

LOB: MC 7, SG 3

SG: 2 triples, 2 doubles, 11 singles

MC: 2 singles

WP-Nerstad, LP- Wyffels 

Bergrud 2 IP, 1H, 0R, 3K, 1W

Nerstad 4 IP, 1H, 1R, 1 ER,5K, 2W, 3HB

Wyffels 5 IP, 15H, 11R, 10 ER, 7K, 1W


Schaeffer 9, SG 3

A bases-loaded double by freshman Luke Kottom sent Schaeffer ahead 3-0 in the first half-inning, and then senior pitcher Riley Gora took control of the Spring Grove offense.

Gora had taken the loss when Spring Grove had won 11-1 at Schaeffer back in the second game of the season. He had struck out six and walked none but was the victim of errors (no earned runs) in that game. 

In this rematch, he was backed up by an error-free defense while striking out 10 and walking only two.

During five innings, Gora gave up only three hits - one every other inning. The home team Lions finally avoided the shutout in the sixth inning with a Bergrud solo home run over the right field fence.

After Gora left the mound (to preserve pitch-count eligibility for the next game), Spring Grove added a Grinde single and four walks to add two runs in the bottom of the final seventh inning against the second reliever Ben Berryhill. 

Bergrud (2 for 3, walk) had half of Grove's four hits - the home run and a triple. Two sophomores, Isaac Griffin (second inning) and Grinde (seventh inning), each had a single.

Sophomore reliever Nolan Gora retired all four batters he faced in addition to leading the Schaefer attack with two walks and three doubles. Five of Schaefer's nine hits were two-baggers.

The visitors scored in five of the seven innings and were ahead 8-0 before Spring Grove crossed home plate.

The Spring Grove defensive play of the game was a great stop and throw by Hagen at third base.

Griffin was the pitcher of record for Spring Grove. In two innings as the starter, he got four of the six outs with strikeouts while walking two and giving up three hits. Leahy and Grinde came on in relief.

Schaeffer 9,SG 3 

SA  320 120  1 - 9  9 0   

SG  000 001  2 - 3  4  3

LOB: SG 8, SA 11

SG hits: HR, triple, 2 singles

SA hits: 5 doubles, 4 singles

WP- R. Gora, LP Griffin

Griffin 2 IP, 3H,5R, 4ER,4K,2W,1HB

Leahy 3.2 IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 3K. 4W

Grinde 1.1 IP, 1H. 1R, 1 ER, 2K, 2W

R. Gora 5 IP, 3H, 1R, 1 ER, 10K, 2W, 1HB

N. Gora 1.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 0K, 0W

Berryhill 6.2 IP,1H, 2R, 2 ER, 2K, 4W


Randolph 11, SG 6

The Lions led 6-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, but a throwing error opened the door for eight unearned Rocket runs. Credit the home team for taking advantage of that opportunity by crowding five of its seven base hits into that fateful sixth-inning rally.

Spring Grove out-hit Randolph 9 to 7, but the Rockets had no errors while the Lions self-destructed with four errors. All 11 Randolph runs were unearned.

The Lions scored quickly with three hits and three earned runs in the first inning. But the Rockets replied with three unearned runs (two errors, only one hit) in the bottom of that first frame.

The tie score held for the next three innings until the Lions edged ahead 4-3 with a walk to Bergrud, a double by Folz and an RBI-single from Nic Peterson. A great outfield catch on a long ball hit by Griffin limited the Lions to only one run.

In the top of the sixth, the Lions went back up by three runs after adding two runs on three hits, including an RBI-double from Bratland. Two infield pop-ups ended the rally with the bases loaded.

That lead would soon be obliterated with the Rockets taking their first lead in their final half-inning at the plate.

The game ended with the Lions being retired in order for the only time.

Spring Grove received two hits each from Folz (double, single) and Griffin along with a double from Bratland plus other singles from Grinde, Peterson and Bergrud.

Dane Ehleringer hit 2 for 3 with a double for the Rockets.

Bratland (5 strikeouts, five walks) was on the mound for the Lions until reaching the pitch-count limit in the fateful sixth inning.

The grab of the game was an incoming, diving catch in right field by Elton.

Randolph 11, SG 6

SG  300 012  0 - 6   9  4

Ran 300  008 x -11  7  0

LOB: SG 9, Ran 4

SG hits: HR, triple, 2 singles

Ran hits: 5 doubles, 4 singles

WP-N. Weckop, LP-Bratland

Bratland 5.2 IP, 4H, 7R, 0 ER, 5K, 5W

Nerstad0.2 IP, 3H, 4R, 0 ER, 0K, 1W

Drinken 5.1 IP, 8H, 6R, 6 ER, 2K, 3W, 1HB

Weckop 0.2 IP, 1H, 0R, 0K, 2W

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


Randolph 5, SG 0

After winning the first game with a late rally, the Rockets took an early lead in the nightcap. With Spring Grove the home team in this conference game, three of the game's first four batters scored in the Rockets’ four-hit first inning. 

Two insurance runs in the sixth inning were unnecessary as Randolph pitcher Andrew Wenstrom tossed a two-hit shutout, striking out 12 and walking only one. The pitches were most often over the corners of the plate and rarely, if ever, down the middle.

After the four-hit, first-inning start, Peterson was effective on the mound for the Lions, allowing only four more hits and two walks over the next six innings. 

The defensive gem was an amazing diving catch by Folz near the brick wall in foul territory. There was strong defensive play at third base by Hagen, who had five assists without error.

After 13 innings without an error, Rocket fielders had two miscues in the seventh inning. But the Lions could not take advantage.

The Lions managed only two singles - from Bergrud in the first inning and from Griffin in the fifth.

This week and next

As the Herald was going to press on Monday of this week, the Lions were in Adams against senior-laden Southland in a non-conference contest that should figure heavily in postseason seeding.

On Tuesday, it was back to league play at Mabel-Canton before a 4:30 p.m. SEC double header against league-leading GMLOK on Friday, May 10, at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

Next week, the final week of the regular season, begins with a non-conference game in Winona against Cotter/Hope Lutheran (5 p.m.). The next day (Tuesday, May 14), the team bus heads to historic Marcusen Park in Austin for the rematch with Lyle/Pacelli.

The Lions play at Houston on Thursday (May 16) before coming home for the Friday, regular-season finale against Rushford-Peterson. 

Junior high

Spring Grove swept both junior games against Mabel-Canton, 4-2 in eighth grade action and a 7-0 shutout by the seventh graders. 

On May 2, the eighth grade Lions (6-1) won at Winona against Cotter/Hope Lutheran 13-5. There were two hits each from Logan Brumm, Caleb Griffin and Jaxon Strinmoen. Griffin and Strinmoen combined to strike out eight batters in four innings.

The seventh graders (5-2-1) fell to the Ramblers, 8-7. Base hits came from Caleb Ranzenberger, Jacob Olerud, Braedon Solie and Isaac Nerstad.

Randolph 5, SG 0

Ran 300  002 0 - 5  8  2

SG  000 000  0 - 0   2  0

LOB: SG 4, Ran 5

SG hits: 1 double, 7 singles

Ran hits: 5 doubles, 4 singles

WP-Wenstrom, LP-Peterson

Peterson 6.2 IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 1K, 2W

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

Wenstrom 7 IP, 2H, 0R, 12K, 1W


Southeast Conference Baseball 2019 (updated since print edition)

GMLOK……………..8-0 SEC (11-2 season)

Randolph……………6-1 SEC (9-1 season)

Spring Grove……….6-3 SEC (7-3 season)

Lyle/Pacelli…………5-4 SEC (8-5 season)

Schaeffer Academy.4-5 SEC (4-7 season)

G-E/A-C…………….3-6 SEC (3-8 season)

Houston…………….2-7 SEC (2-9 season)

Mabel-Canton……..0-8 SEC (1-9 season)


Spring Grove varsity baseball (7-3, 6-3 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

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

L vs. Schaeffer Academy 3-9

L at Randolph 6-11

L vs. Randolph 0-5

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 (6-1)

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 4-0

W at Cotter 13-5


Seventh grade (4-2-1)

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

W vs. Mabel-Canton 7-0

L at Cotter 7-8