Spring Grove closes regular season with four wins

Spring Grove’s Carter Bratland tags out Rushford-Peterson’s Carter Weidemann at home plate to preserve a scoreless tie in the third inning. The stunning sequence started at the left field fence with a throw from Caden Grinde to Nic Peterson. Photo by S. Lee Epps
S. Lee Epps

The Spring Grove baseball boys closed the regular season with four straight wins (in five days), a third-place finish in the conference and a 12-6 (9-5 SEC) record heading into this week's sub-section tournament.

There was a home run in each of the first three wins (including a grand slam), starting with a 7-1 non-conference road decision at Class AA Cotter/Hope Lutheran on May 13. 

The Lions cemented that third-place finish by completing a season sweep of fourth-place Lyle/Pacelli with a 6-2 road triumph at Austin’s historic Marcusen Park on May 14.

The boys then handled Houston 14-3 on May 16 - the second time this season that this game was moved to Blayne Onsgard Field, due to soggy conditions at Houston. 

The May 17 non-conference 5-0 shutout of visiting Rushford-Peterson surely assured the Lions of a top-two sub-section seed.

SG 7, Cotter/Hope Lutheran 1

Extra innings appeared highly possible, if not probable, as a pitchers’ duel entered the seventh inning. But Spring Grove exploded with six runs in the top of that final frame to turn a stalemate into a suddenly comfortable conquest of a winless Cotter/Hope Lutheran club (0-15).

Five of the Lions' nine hits came in that late flurry, including a three-run, over-the-fence home run from Chandler Bergrud and a fence-contacting double from Noah Elton.

Before that powerful explosion, it was small-ball with two infield hits, including a sacrifice bunt attempt by Caleb Nerstad that turned into a single. And then Payton Leahy had a sacrifice bunt before Kyle Hagen lofted a sacrifice fly.

"We played some small ball," said Lion coach Chris Strinmoen, "trying a couple safety squeezes, and actually tagged and scored on a pop up to the first baseman."

In a way, I felt like we escaped with a victory, even though the score didn't make it look that close."

The Ramblers had scored first, in the first inning, with a single and a Lion error. 

But the home team would manage only one more hit, also a single. But that batter would not score, put out with an unorthodox 7-4-5 double play that began with a retreating, over-the-shoulder catch in left field by Caden Grinde.

That was the first of three twin killings, followed by a couple of infield gems.

Overall, three Spring Grove pitchers gave up only those two base hits while striking out six and walking seven. 

"Caleb Nerstad did a heck of a job on the mound for us," added the coach, "throwing five no-hit innings of relief to pick up the win. 

"This was an interesting game to say the least. We really struggled early at the plate. It appeared guys were trying too hard and were just overanxious. "

Grinde batted 2 for 3 and Bergrud 2 for 4 with a double as well as the homer. Folz and Elton also had two-baggers.

Other hits came from Carter Bratland and Nic Peterson plus the Nerstad bunt single.

Cotter/Hope is a young team with only one senior, four sophomores, four freshmen and an eighth grader seeing action versus Spring Grove.

SG 7, Cotter/Hope Lutheran 1

SG  001 000 6 - 7  9  3

CH 100  000 0 - 1  2  2

LOB: SG 4, CH 5

SG: home run, 3 doubles, 5 singles

CH: 2 singles

WP- Nerstad, LP-Guzzo

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

Nerstad 5 IP, 0H, 0R, 2W, 3K

Folz 1 IP, 0H, 0R, 2W, 2K

Guzzo 6.2 IP, 9H, 7R, 7ER, 2W, 4K

Ubi 0.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 1W, 0K


SG 6, Lyle/Pacelli 2

No one crossed the plate during the final four innings, but Spring Grove had struck early to complete a season sweep of the Athletics.

"This was big win for us," said Strinmoen. "Having had some difficulties lately, we were able to go on the road and beat a good team. It really gave us a boost this week. 

"We pounced on them right away with two runs in the first off Nic's bases-loaded single. Then we followed it up with four more in the second, highlighted by a big two-run home run from Alex Folz. 

"Carter Bratland was magnificent on the mound, going five and two-thirds innings, striking out 12. And Alex threw another shutout inning of relief for the second night in a row. 

"I also felt our defense was really solid, something that had been missing in the previous few games.

"To end the bottom of the second, Chandler Bergrud went back on a pop-up towards his first base side. He managed to get there in time and initially catch it, but the ball popped into the air as he tripped, and Noah Elton happened to be there to secure the catch without the ball hitting the ground, for the F-3-9."

Folz, Leahy and Elton each batted 2 for 4; solo hits came from Peterson, Bergrud, Nerstad and Isaac Griffin.

The Lions had edged the Athletics 2-0 previously at Blayne Osgard Memorial Field.

L/P (10-8, 7-6) is a young squad with six of the nine players in the batting order being sophomores.

SG 6, Lyle/Pacelli 2

SG 240  000  0 - 6 10  1

L/P 101  000 0 - 2   9   3

LOB: SG 9, L/P 7

SG: home run, 9 singles

L/P: triple, 2 doubles, 6 singles

WP-Bratland, LP- Strouf            

Bratland 5.2 IP, 5H. 2R, 2ER, 2W, 12K

Folz 1.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 0W, 2K

Strouf 2 IP, 5H, 6R, 4ER, 5W, 1K  

Walter 5 IP, 5H, 0R, 1W, 6K  


SG 14, Houston 3

Peterson belted a grand slam home run, and three Lion pitchers combined to toss a two-hitter

"The bats are really starting to click now, which is a good sign heading into playoffs," said Strinmoen. "Nic got in on the action with a 2-for-3 performance that included a grand slam and finished with five RBIs. 

"He had rough start to the day on the mound, so it was nice to see him quickly redeem himself with the home run. 

"Alex is really seeing the ball well also. He has been our offensive leader here as of late. 

"Both Caleb Nerstad and Isaac Griffin really picked us up on the mound and pitched very well to shut down Houston. I can feel our team starting to gain confidence in all three phases of the game."

The 11-hit Lion attack included Folz going 3 for 4 game and Bratland joining Peterson with a 2-for-3 evening.

Other hits came from the bats of Leahy, Griffin, Grinde and Nerstad.

SG 14, Houston 3

SG   806 00 -14 11  1

Hou  300  00 - 3  2  3

LOB: SG 6, Hou 3

SG: home run, 10 singles

Hou: 2 singles

WP-Griffin, LP-Millen

Peterson 0 IP, 1H, 3R, 3ER, 3W, 0K

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

Griffin 3 IP, 0H, 0R, 1W, 5K

Millen 1 IP, 5H, 8R, 8 ER, 7W, 1K

Carrier 1.2 IP, 6H, 6R, 0 ER, 2W, 0K

Olson 2.1 IP, 0H, 0R, 0W, 3K


SG 5, Rushford-Peterson 0

While Folz tossed a four-hit shutout, four of the Lions' nine hits came together to score three runs for a 3-0 lead in the third inning. There were two doubles in that inning, and Bratland delivered a single to send the first two runs across the plate.

It would have been an even bigger inning if not for Trojan junior Seth Heiden making a great grab of a Nerstad line drive to center field.

That three-run margin held until Spring Grove added two insurance runs in the sixth.

The Trojans left runners on base in each inning. Some key defensive plays kept the visitors off the scoreboard. 

With two runners on base, Elton made an incoming, diving grab to end the first inning.

A Hurricane was thrown out at home with the play starting at the left field fence with Grinde relaying to Peterson at shortstop to Bratland at the plate.

Griffin made a diving stop in center field to prevent a single from becoming a double. With the Lions ahead 3-0 in the fifth inning, that prevented a run and allowed Folz to end a bases-loaded threat with a strikeout.

Folz batted 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles while Peterson went 2 for 2 with another two-bagger. Bergrud batted 2 for 3 with other hits supplied by Griffin, Elton and Bratland.

"Tonight was a big win for us," concluded Strinmoen. "We felt really good going into this game, handing Alex (Folz) the ball for his first start in over two weeks. He turned in a great performance, shutting out R-P for six innings, collecting seven strikeouts. 

"Caleb (Nerstad) did his job coming in relief to shut down the Trojans in the last inning. 

"Carter (Bratland) had the big two-RBI single that got us on the board, and we kind of cruised after that. 

"The defense was great again, and I'm really happy seeing the bats coming to life. We should be in good shape for playoffs. Hopefully our final week of the season was a good enough showing for a top two seed. Main thing now is to get healthy and keep the momentum going."

SG 5, Rushford-Peterson 0

RP  000 000  0 - 0  4  2

SG 003  002 x - 5   9  2

LOB: SG 9, R-P 11

SG: 3 doubles, 6 singles

RP: 4 singles

WP-Folz, LP- Mueller

Folz 5 IP, 4H, 0R, 7W, 7K

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

Mueller 6 IP, 9H, 5R, 4ER, 2W, 2K, 2HB


Young Lions

The season came to an end last week with winning records for all three younger squads - the B-team boys and the junior high guys, the latter coached by Blaine Storlie.

The Lion B-Team(5-2) edged Houston 7-6 with a walk-off hit from Gabe Prahl. But the boys came up one run short of Rushford-Peterson in a 3-2 loss.

The eighth graders(10-3) lost to Lyle/Pacelli 3-1 but rebounded to bounce Houston 9-3. A two-run home run by Logan Brumm was the scoring difference in a 2-1 win against Rushford-Peterson. Caleb Griffin struck out 13 Trojans in five innings.

The seventh gradeLions (7-3-1) also absorbed a loss to Lyle/Pacelli, 3-6,  but won three of the last four. They defeated GMLOK 9-2, Houston 14-4 and R-P 1-0. 


SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE   2019 - SEC race completed           


GMLOK*……………….14-0 SEC (17-2 season)                                                        

Randolph……………..12-2 SEC (17-2 season)                                                                           

Spring Grove……….9-5 SEC (12-6 season)                                                                    

Lyle/Pacelli ………….8-6 SEC (11-8 season0                                                                                          

Schaeffer Academy..6-8 SEC (6-12 season)                                     

G-E/A-C………………..5-9 SEC (6-12 season)                                                      

Houston………………..2-12 SEC (2-16 season)                                                                        

Mabel-Canton……….014 SEC (1-16 season)                                                                          

* champion


Spring Grove varsity baseball (12-6, 9-5 SEC) end of regular season

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

L at Southland 1-5

W at Mabel-Canton 12-0

L vs. GMLOK 1-2

L vs. GMLOK 3-10

W at Cotter/Hope Lutheran 7-1

W at Lyle/Pacelli (at Austin) 6-2

W at Houston 14-3

W vs. Rushford-Peterson 5-0


5/23 vs. Mabel-Canton


B-team (5-2)

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

L vs. Caledonia 3-9

W vs. Glenville-Emmons/Alden-Conger 4-0

W vs. Mabel-Canton 3-1

W vs. Mabel-Canton 6-3

W vs. Houston 7-6

L vs. Rushford-Peterson 2-3


Eighth grade (10-3)

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 4-2

W at Cotter 13-5

L vs. Fillmore Central/Lanesboro 5-6

W vs. Mabel-Canton 22-4

W vs. GMLOK 12-0

L at Lyle/Pacelli 1-3

W at Houston 9-3

W vs. Rushford-Peterson 2-1


Seventh grade (7-3-1)

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

W vs. GMLOK 9-2

L at Lyle/Pacelli 3-6

W at Houston 14-4

W vs. Rushford-Peterson 2-0