Thief River Falls won 7-6 and 13-2.
CROOKSTON - The forecast showed precipitation on Wednesday, May 22, and rain fell from the sky at first pitch, but the Thief River Falls Prowlers and Crookston Pirates were determined to get this game in.
Crookston went down early 3-0, scored six unanswered to take the lead in the fourth and sat three outs away from an official five-inning game. Before a pitch was thrown in the fifth inning, the coaches and umps agreed to suspend the game with the Pirates ahead 6-3.
The call was made with the intent of resuming play on Thursday, May 22 at 4:30 p.m. in the top of the fifth and Crookston up 6-3.
When play continued, the game possessed a different feel. The Pirate bats went silent, and the Prowlers’ took flight for four runs in the final two innings which resulted in a 7-6 come-from-behind win. Thief River Falls used the swing of momentum to take Game 2 by a final score of 13-2.
“I really do think we lost a lot of our momentum,” Pirates Head Coach Mitch Bakken said on the suspension. “I thought we would come back and be more fired up. We stopped that game in bad weather, and the kids had great energy. We were just flat [the next day]. [Thief River Falls] showed up, they had energy and we didn’t.”
Game 1 L 7-6
A two-out RBI double by Hunter Tabatt (Sr. 1B) scored the Prowlers’ first run, Tabatt went on to score on a wild pitch as did Brandon Bruggeman (Jr. DH) who reached on a single and TRF jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
The weather clearly affected TRF starting pitcher Zach Westlund (So. P) who struggled with command in the second inning walking two batters and hitting one. Crookston used the free passes to their advantage when Jacob Miller (So. RF) slapped a two-RBI single to plate Brooks Butt (Fr. 3B) and Jade Selzler (Jr. C). Miller later scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
After the rocky first inning, Pirates’ starter Leyton Salentine (Jr. RHP) pitched four clean frames. The junior ran into a bit of trouble in the top of the fourth with second and third and no outs but used a strikeout, a flyout and a groundout to escape unscathed.
Despite runners on second and third with one out at the time of the flyout, for whatever reason, Austin Olson (Sr. 3B) did not tag on a ball hit plenty deep.
Crookston’s first five batters reached to start the fourth. A single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Salentine. During the at-bat, Gunner Gunderson (Fr. CF) came home on a wild pitch. Salentine later walked to load the bases again, and Gavin Salem (Jr. DH) knocked in the inning’s second run with a single. Ashton Larson (Fr. C) capped off the rally on an RBI groundout, and Crookston went up 6-3.
“I think we just got past the weather, and all of a sudden, they were just kind of enjoying it,” Bakken said. “A couple guys got uniforms pretty dirty diving, and it became fun, backyard baseball. That’s how you need to play every day. We just haven’t been. It shouldn’t take sloppy filed conditions to play your best baseball.”
Following the third out of the inning, the Pirates took the field in anticipation of recording the next three outs and making it an official game. Unfortunately for Crookston, they never got the chance. Puddles began to form on the infield, mud covered the mound and plate and the umpires ruled the game suspended.
Salentine returned to the mound for the fifth inning the next day and did not allow a run.
A single, error and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with one out for TRF in the sixth, and Grant Hartmann (Jr. RF) scored two on a single. The next batter, Tabatt, tied the game 6-6 on a sacrifice fly.
Carter Bruggeman (So. P) entered in the seventh and retired the first two batters before a single, followed by a walk and another single loaded the bases. Kaleb Flaagan (Sr. LF) drew an RBI walk, and the Prowlers had their first lead since the second inning.
Gunderson reached on a single in the bottom half of the seventh, stole second and third but was stranded 90 feet from tying the game when Doda flew out to center.
“I don’t know if the kids really comprehended that it was the fifth inning,” Bakken said on resuming play. “Even in the seventh inning, they were acting like they had time, and I reminded them it’s the bottom of the seventh inning, and we’re down by one now. It just seemed like they didn’t understand that we started that game in the fifth.”
Game 2 L 13-2
Six runs in the second and seven in the third delivered a gut punch the Pirates could not recover from. The Pirates took a 1-0 lead on a Salem RBI single in the first to score Doda, but the lead was short-lived. Salentine scored the only other run for Crookston with an RBI groundout in the fifth.
Ahead by 11 after five, Thief River Falls sealed the mercy rule victory.
“I honestly don’t know what happened that second game,” Bakken said. “We let some guys on, but I don’t remember any terrible errors. A guy hit a triple, and that pretty much knocked us out of it.”
Keaden Kempert (Sr. P) went the entire game for the Prowlers to pick up the win on the mound. The senior struck out seven Crookston hitters and allowed only five hits. The only Pirate baserunners after the second inning came as a result of back-to-back errors in the fifth.
Kaleb Thingelstad provided Crookston’s bright spot in Game 2 on the mound.
“Kaleb Thingelstad came in, and he didn’t give up a run in three innings,” Bakken said. “He’s only thrown JV this year. I was so proud and happy with the way he threw. I think he was pretty excited too. He threw outstanding.”
The Pirates end their regular season with a record of 3-11 and will play Bagley in the Section 8AA Play-In on Tuesday, May 28. The winner of that game will go on to play East Grand Forks, the one seed. In their only meeting of the year, the season-opener, Crookston won 15-0 against Bagley.Thief River Falls 3 0 0 0 0 3 1 7 6 2 Crookston 0 3 0 3 0 0 0 6 9 2 Thief River Falls AB R H RBI BB K Keaden Kempert (SS) 4 2 1 0 1 0 Kaleb Flaagan (LF) 2 1 0 1 2 0 Grant Hartmann (RF) 4 0 1 2 1 1 Hunter Tabatt (1B) 3 1 1 2 0 0 Brandon Bruggeman (DH) 3 1 0 0 1 1 Zach Myhrer (CF) 2 0 0 0 2 1 Austin Olson (3B) 3 0 0 0 1 0 Zach Praska (C) 4 2 3 0 0 0 Matt Kolden (2B) 3 0 0 0 1 2 Pitchers IP H R ER K BB Zach Westlund 3.0 6 6 6 3 4
Austin Olson (W)
1Crookston AB R H RBI BB K Joe Doda (SS) 4 1 2 0 1 0 Brady Butt (1B) 3 1 0 0 1 1 Leyton Salentine (P) 1 0 0 0 3 0 Gavin Salem (DH) 3 0 1 1 0 1 Brooks Butt (3B) 2 1 1 0 1 0 Jade Selzler (C) 1 1 1 0 0 0 -Ashton Larson (C) 3 0 0 1 0 0 Jacob Miller (RF) 4 1 2 2 0 1 Walker Winjum (2B) 3 0 0 0 0 1 Gunner Gunderson (CF) 4 1 2 0 0 1 Pitchers IP H R ER K BB
Carter Bruggeman (L)
2Thief River Falls 0 6 7 0 0 13 15 2 Crookston 1 0 0 0 1 2 5 3
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