Spring Grove captures Little League Tourney title

ABOVE: Braedon Solie strides to first base as the ball lies on the ground during 11-and-Under action versus Shelby. BELOW: Caleb Nerstad tags out New Albin's Dalton Dibert, who was attempting to steal second base during Lion Junior Legion victory. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
S. Lee Epps

The 13 and under Spring Grove boys won the Houston and Fillmore County Little League Tournament for the second time in four years but for only the third time in at least 26 summers - 2018, 2015 and 2007. (Before then, records are unavailable.)

The three tourney wins on July 24 came the day after closing the Little League regular season with an evening road win at Mabel and one day before the season ended at La Crosse with a loss to the Boys and Girls Club.

The Lions finished at 22-8, including a 9-1 Little League record (split with New Albin) and a 2-5 mark in the Coulee Region League.

The 16-and-under Junior Legion squad (5-1) concluded the season with a home split while the 11-and-under guys (7-11) closed at home with a pair of league losses.


>>>SG 13, Mabel 7

Caleb Griffin was the only batter with more than one hit, going 2 for 3 with a pair of triples, scored three runs and drove in another. Logan Brumm (1 for 2) had a two-RBI double. Those were the only three Lions hits, but there were not a lot of quality hitting opportunities with 13 walks and four hit batters.

Mabel out-hit SG 5 to 3, including two triples. Five SG pitchers combined to strike out 10 and walk nine. Caleb Ranzenberger earned the pitching win in one inning of relief.


>>Little League Tournament

Lion hurlers gave up only four total hits in the three tournament wins with a one-hitter pitched by Brumm and a two-hitter by Nathan Solberg. 

Griffin, Jaxon Strinmoen and Elijah Solum combined to pitch a one-hitter in the championship game.

Spring Grove avenged last year's championship loss to Lanesboro by blanking the Burros 4-0 in the 2018 title tilt. For the second straight year, preliminary rounds included four-inning, 10-run-rule wins against Preston and Grand Meadow.

>>>SG 12, Preston 2

Solberg tossed the two-hitter while striking out six and walking only one.

At the plate, Brumm batted 3 for 3 with two doubles and two RBIs. Griffin went 3 for 4 with a double while driving in two runs and scoring twice as well.

Solum hit 2 for 2, including a 2-RBI double and scored three runs. Strinmoen went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Ty Cleven completed the 11-hit attack. The Lions had previously routed Preston 13-3.


>>>SG 13, Grand Meadow 3

Brumm allowed only one earned run while pitching a one-hitter, fanning 10 batters and walking only two. 

There were three Lion home runs with Solum belting two round-trippers with three RBIs. Solberg (2 for 3) also hit a home run while driving in another three runs.

There were also two hits each from Griffin (double, 2 RBIs), Strinmoen (RBI) and Jonah Udstuen (3 runs). 

Brumm (double) and Tysen Grinde also contributed to the 12 Spring Grove base hits. Earlier in the summer, SG had defeated the  Superlarks 12-1.


>>SG 4, Lanesboro 0

The first three batters of the game all scored as Spring Grove took a quick 3-0 lead.

 Three Burro errors were crucial as losing pitcher Stephan Schultz gave up only one earned run while striking out 10 and walking only two. 

Spring Grove fielders were not challenged as 14 of the 15 Burro outs were strikeouts.

Griffin, the starting and winning pitcher, struck out 12 and walked only two in four innings. In one inning of relief each, Strinmoen fanned three batters and Solum struck out two

Griffin batted 2 for 3; Cleven hit a triple. Solum banged out a double with the fifth Lion hit coming from Strinmoen.

SG had shutout the Burros 10-0 earlier in the summer.


>>>Boys & Girls Club 12, SG 3

Back in Coulee Region League action on July 25, the Lions again took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. But the Boys and Girls Club quickly answered with six runs and would finish with 12 runs on 11 hits, including two triples.

Strinmoen (2 for 2) had two of the three Lion hits. Returning from injury, Dane Edgington also singled



The lone loss of the season came against Caledonia on July 24 with most of the usual Lions away at football camp. The campaign closed two nights later with a come-from-behind 3-2  victory over New Albin.


>>>Caledonia 8, SG 3

Caledonia out-hit SG only 5 to 4, but the Warriors had all three extra-base hits (doubles) and took advantage of nine free passes. Both Warriors hit by pitches and four who drew walks would score six of the eight Caledonia runs. SG drew five walks, but only one of those runners scored.

Lion lead-off batter Payton Leahy (2 for 3) was the only player in the game with more than one hit.

All three SG runs came in the fourth inning with a walk to Logan Brumm followed by singles from Carson Gerard and Caleb Griffin along with RBI groundballs from Ty Cleven and Jonah Udstuen. 

Those Lions were five of the six 13-and-under players in the nine-man batting order. With most of the 16-U regulars away at football camp, the baseball game involved mostly 13-U players. SG had edged the Warriors 3-2 earlier in the summer.

Cal  101  42 - 8 5  1

SG  000  30 - 3 4  3

LOB: Cal 7, SG 7

WP-Staggemeyer, LP-Nerstad

Nerstad 3.1 IP, 2H, 4R, 3ER, 6K, 4W

Leahy 1.2 IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER ,2K, 3W

Staggemeyer 5IP, 4H, 3ER, 7K, 5W


>>>SG 3, New Albin 2

The winning run was scored by Caleb Nerstad on a passed ball right after a tying run, scored by Chandler Bergrud, came at the end of a confusing sequence that had begun as a base-running mistake.

That Lion rally in the bottom of the fifth involved only one hit (Nerstad single) along with four walks.

The clutch hit was a bases-loaded, RBI single by Udstuen that had tied the score at 1-1 in the second inning.

No batter had multiple hits or an extra-base hit. Also contributing singles for SG were Bergrud, Kyle Hagen and Caden Grinde.

The bases were loaded with Indians with only one out when a stunning diving grab by Leahy at second base ended the threat with a double play. That was the second inning-ending, double play that began with an outstanding stop by Leahy. 

Isaac Griffin earned the pitching win in three middle innings of relief. Carter Bratland, in two innings or relief, earned the save while giving up no hits, striking out five and walking only two

NA  100  010  0 - 2  4 0

SG  010  020  x - 3  5 2

LOB: NA 4, SG 8

WP-I. Griffin, LP- Cota

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

Griffin 3 IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 0W

Bratland 2 IP, 0H, 0R, 5K, 2W



With a pair of home setbacks, the 11-and-under lads closed with a 7-11 record, including a 4-9 mark in Coulee Region League play. The Tuesday night lineup fell at home to Holmen on July 24 before the Thursday crew was shelved by Shelby.

>>>Holmen 10, SG 9

Gavin Ostern had singled home Brandon Jahnke and reached third base as the potential tying run when the game ended.

The Lions had tied the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the first and were ahead 7-5 after two innings. But the Vikings added five in the next inning and held on to escape with a one-run decision.

Down 10-7 going into that last at-bat, SG rallied for two runs after two outs with a walk to Bryce Berns followed by singles from Jahnke and Ostern.

SG scored nine runs on five hits (all singles). Jacob Solum went 2 for 2, and Jahnke batted 2 for 3. The visitors had eight hits, including a triple and two doubles.


Shelby 19, SG 3

The visitors scored 19 runs on seven hits while the Lions tallied three runs on no hits.