It’s hard to believe the amateur baseball season is already nearing its end, but the Region 7C tournament is just around the corner as the Waconia Lakers finish up the regular season this weekend with games against St. Louis Park and Winsted.
Last week in action, the Lakers were 2-1, sandwiching a loss to Hamburg between victories over Mayer and St. Bonifacius.
Headed into this final weekend of Crow River Valley League play, the Lakers are 16-4, just one-half game back from the Wildcats of Winsted, who lead the CRVL North. Sunday’s match up between the two at Winsted could decide this year’s CRVL North champion and which team will earn a bye in the regional play in games.
Waconia 6, Mayer 2
Hosting the Mayer Blazers on Tuesday, July 9, each team posted a run in the first inning. A three-run third inning by the Lakers would give them the lead, while one more run in the fifth would pad the lead at 5-1. The Blazers were able to cross one runner in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough.
Ryan Naughton started on the mound for Waconia, throwing six compete innings. He allowed both Mayer runs (which were earned by the Blazers) on six hits. He walked just one batter and struck out six.
Josh Lenz earned the save for the Lakers. In his three innings on the mound, Lenz didn’t allow a single hit. He also struck out five batters and walked three.
As a team, the Lakers scored six runs on eight hits. Jeremy Salden and Ronnie Olson both had two hits during the game, while Ben Smothers, Kodey Simon, Kevin Bullis, and Nick Hukriede pulled in the other four hits. Salden, Olson, and Smothers each had a double, while Kevin Bullis pulled off a two-run triple in the third inning.
“We didn’t hit extremely well, but we made them count,” Salden said.
Hamburg 4, Waconia 3
After six innings of play on July 12, the Lakers led 3-2 over Hamburg. But a two-run top of the ninth inning for Hamburg would give the Hawks the 4-3 lead and the Lakers were unable to respond in the bottom of the ninth.
Hamburg scored four runs on nine hits with two errors compared to Waconia’s three runs, seven hits, and three errors.
Chris Bullis threw a compete game for the Lakers and was awarded the loss. He allowed four runs (two earned) on nine hits, while walking one but striking out six.
Nearly every Laker on Friday’s roster earned a hit including Jeff Chrest, Salden, Tom Lyons, Dan Butz, Eric Aeling, Robbie Smothers, and Olson, but no Laker had more than their one hit. Chrest’s was the only Laker double of the game.
“Hamburg was a tough loss,” Olson said. “We felt like we were in control of the whole game but didn’t make enough plays or get the clutch hitting that we typically have to get the win.”
Waconia 10, St. Boni 0
In just seven innings on July 14, the Lakers put away the Saints of St. Boni in a 10-0 game.
In those seven innings, Waconia pitchers Craig LaPlante and Robbie Smothers shut down the Saints’ offense, only allowing one hit. LaPlante threw six innings and gave up one hit, while striking out seven. Smothers threw what would be the closing inning and walked one.
“Craig LaPlante pitched brilliantly against St. Boni,” Olson said. “That may have been the best we’ve seen him pitch since he’s been with the Lakers.”
Waconia’s bats were hot in St. Boni as the Lakers picked up 10 runs on 12 hits. Those hits snuck past Saints to give St. Boni four defensive errors during the game.
“We collected a lot of hits early and took advantage of a couple errors to put it out of reach,” Salden said.
Aeling led the Lakers at the plate, going 3-4 with two singles, a double, and two RBIs. Robbie Smothers, Olson, and Lyons each had two-hit games. Lyons collected three RBIs for the team.
Salden, Chrest, and Nick Litfin each had a hit as well.
The Lakers will finish up the regular season by hosting St. Louis Park Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and at Winsted on Sunday at 1 p.m.
A win Sunday means the Lakers head to regions as the No. 1 North seed, earning a bye through the three-game play in series. If the Lakers lose Sunday, they will face a winless St. Boni team in the best of three series and will enter the region tournament as a No. 2 seed.
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