Four runs in the final inning for Fosston kept Crookston from winning their first game.
Crookston led Fosston 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning one strike away from notching their first win of the season. But with runners on first and second, a base hit to right field tied the game. Three runs later, the Pirates trailed 6-3 down to their last three outs. Crookston got the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, but could not bring him home as Fosston left town with the come-from-behind win.
“I knew we needed to score more runs,” Head Coach Mitch Bakken said. “It seems like we’ve given up six a game. You always want to keep your foot on the gas and three runs isn’t going to be enough. That’s how it goes.”
The game remained scoreless throughout two and a half innings. The pitcher for Crookston (0-5), sophomore Leyton Salentine, worked around a base runner in each of the first three innings, but came out unscathed.
The Pirate bats struggled to get going striking out four times in the first two innings until senior Jackson Seibel led off the third with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Jade Selzler. Sophomore Joey Doda reached on an infield single which sent Seibel to third. Doda stole second and moments later, Seibel scored on a wild pitch to break the scoreless tie and give Crookston a 1-0 lead.
“We’ve struggled hitting so we have to make something happen on the base paths ,” Bakken said. “We ran really well and bunted. Stealing second and third and the sacrifices was done really well today. We’re just going to have to continue to do that and manufacture runs.”
Salentine came out for the fourth inning and struck out the side while stranding two baserunners.
In the bottom half of the frame, the Pirates added two insurance runs. Senior Alex LaFrance singled to right center and stole second and third during at bats by Drew Dragseth and Cade Salentine who both struck out.
With two outs and LaFrance on third, senior Tim Parr hit a gapper to right center that rolled all the way to the fence for an RBI double.
“That was the hardest ball I think we’ve hit all year,” Bakken said. “It was a pretty swing and we’ve been talking about working away, keeping your hands inside the ball and let your bat and your lower half do the work. Tim did that and drove that ball.”
One batter later with Seibel batting, Parr broke for third and a wild throw to third allowed Parr to trot home for a 3-0 lead.
Salentine preserved the lead in the fifth inning retiring the Fosston batters in order and collecting two more strikeouts along the way to total eight. In the sixth inning, the Fosston bats finally came alive with an RBI triple and an RBI sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 3-2. Salentine struck out the last two batters of the inning to end his day as he neared the maximum pitch count allowed for a single game. Salentine finished with six innings, allowed two runs and punched out 10 Greyhound hitters.
“He threw really well and we knew he would,” Bakken said. “As his arm gets stronger, he feels more confident in his slider and he throws hard. He got into a pitch count situation which kind of hurt us because he was throwing so well. He was in the 90s so I didn’t want to send him out there for ten pitches and have to bring in another guy in the middle of an inning.”
LaFrance reached second in the sixth inning after a walk and a stolen base, but back-to-back strikeouts by the Pirates ended the scoring threat.
Selzler came on to close the game in the seventh inning and struck out the first batter he faced. The next batter hit a swinging bunt single between the mound and first base. Following the infield hit, the Pirates committed a throwing error on a ground ball to third base which gave Fosston runners on first and second with one out.
“It’s high school baseball and there are going to be errors,” Bakken said. “It’s just bad timing. We had to make a change and move Tim over to third and he makes that play 40 out of 40 times. It’s just something that happens.”
The next Greyhound hitter popped up a pitch between the catcher and the pitcher forcing an infield fly rule despite the ball dropping. Selzler reached a two-strike count, but surrendered a game-tying single. Fosston finished the inning with another RBI single, an RBI hit by pitch and scored their sixth run on a wild pitch to lead 6-3.
Crookston’s first two batters struck out and flew out to start their last-chance inning. Sophomore Walker Winjum came in to pinch hit and reached first on a hit by pitch and Doda drew a walk. Before a pitch was thrown to Leyton Salentine, the Fosston pitcher balked sending Winjum and Doda into scoring position. Salentine then hit a ball that fell in front of the center fielder to get Crookston within a run.
With Brady Butt batting, Salentine stole second, but advanced no further as Butt struck out to end the game.
“The dugout got quiet and we tried to get the energy up and it was good to see,” Bakken said. “With Brady up, he was due and Leyton was on second. I thought we could tie it and we’d be sitting pretty good. It just didn’t happen, but we can’t allow it to get to our last at bat.”
Bakken hopes his team can move on from the tough loss with another game looming.
“We got to come back and do it tomorrow,” Bakken said. “It’s going to be the exact same thing. They’ll get here at the same time, run through the same stuff with the same routine. They just need to put this one in the rear-view mirror and be ready to play Bagley. If we show up and play, we can get our first win. If we don’t, we could be 0-6.”
Crookston will have another chance to claim their first victory on Friday, April 27 against Bagley. First pitch and Jim Karn Field is at 4:30 p.m.