Pirates can't get bats going in 3-0 loss to BGMR

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times

It seemed as if the Crookston baseball team was finally getting the breaks it didn't get earlier in the game, right when it mattered most.

Leading off the seventh inning, Cade DeLeon smoked a line drive just inside the third-base bag. It could hardly have been better-struck, and DeLeon cruised into second base with a well-earned double.

But just as quickly, things went right back to how they'd been. Ashton Larson, the next batter, hit another sharp line drive that looked destined for left field. This time it was snared by the shortstop, who easily threw DeLeon out at second.

While the Pirates made hard contact throughout Thursday's game, it didn't matter. Badger/Greenbush-Middle River fielders got to almost everything, Noah Warne set Crookston's hitters down with ease and the Gators' bats scratched out hits with runners in scoring position. The Pirates fell, 3-0, on a frustrating afternoon that brought their losing streak to six games.

"The line drives, there's nothing you can do about that," said Crookston coach Mitch Bakken. "We've got guys that are hitting the ball and it's just right at people. Someday those will fall in."

Warne, who allowed just four hits in his complete game, had success by changing speeds and keeping the Crookston hitters off-balance. While the Pirates (5-8) got the barrel on the ball a number of times, that only told half the story of their day at the plate. They often didn't even put the ball in play, instead watching two-strike pitches sail by with their bats on their shoulders. 

Ashton Larson hits a hard ground ball.

"I'm tired of watching strike threes," Bakken said. "We're gonna make some adjustments. We've already told the guys to carry bags and gear if they strike out looking. I want them going up there and taking hacks."

Taking more hacks worked for BGMR (7-5), which routinely struck while the iron was hot. It scored its first run in the first inning when Ethan Waage singled home Dominik Vacura, who had reached on an error. In the sixth inning, it took advantage of another Pirate error to make it 3-0.

While Brooks Butt was solid on the mound and at the plate, and Cade Coauette was impressive in relief with four strikeouts in two innings, Crookston's seventh-inning push died barely after it began.

"They had some bloopers," Bakken said. "They were getting hits by sticking the bat out in 0-2 counts and we were watching and striking out looking. In high school baseball, you gotta put the ball in play."

To this point, the high-water mark of Crookston's season was holding an 8-0 lead in the sixth inning over Sacred Heart last Thursday. The Pirates blew that lead, marking the start of their losing streak and beginning a 29-inning stretch during which they've been outscored 55-10.

Part of it, in Bakken's opinion, is simply that Crookston is facing better competition than it did early in the season. Still, when he looks at his team, he sees a group that has lost some of its rhythm.

Cade Coauette pitched two scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts.

Bakken thinks the Pirates might be close to finding it again, though. He thought they were more vocal, more energetic from the dugout on Thursday, in addition to the slew of caught line drives. They'll have plenty of attempts coming up to make that translate into wins.

"Next week will determine everything," Bakken said. "Four games and it's going to be good or bad, it depends on what attitudes the kids come in with. It's going to be a long, tiring week, so I hope they got energy for four games."

UP NEXT: Crookston begins a busy stretch on Monday, May 17 when it hosts Fergus Falls (2-10, 0-0 Section 8AA). The day after, it will host East Grand Forks (1-8, 1-5) in a doubleheader, and on Friday, May 21, it will take on Park Rapids (3-9, 0-2) in a game that was rescheduled from April.

BADGER/GREENBUSH-MIDDLE RIVER 3, CROOKSTON 0

Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 1-1-0-0-0-1-0—3-5-1

Crookston 0-0-0-0-0-0-0—0-4-2

  • WP: Noah Warne (7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K)
  • LP: Brooks Butt (5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)

The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730 or sports editor Jacob Shames at jshames@crookstontimes.com.

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Brooks Butt threw five innings in his start Thursday, giving up three runs on five hits.