Waconia Lakers earn trip to state tournament

Lakers third baseman Robbie Smothers rushes a grounder and throws the ball to first for an out in the second inning against Brownton on Aug. 1. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

Lakers third baseman Robbie Smothers rushes a grounder and throws the ball to first for an out in the second inning against Brownton on Aug. 1. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

After opening the 2014 Region 7C Tournament with quality victories over the Brownton Bruins and Green Isle Irish last weekend, the Waconia Lakers have advanced back to the Class C state tournament for the first time since the team’s consecutive state tournament appearances in 2011 and 2012.

“We played two really good baseball games over the weekend,” said Ronnie Olson, one of the managers for the Lakers, who defeated Brownton 7-3 on Friday, Aug. 1 and Green Isle 6-5 on Sunday, Aug. 3. “We didn’t make any big mistakes and we had clutch hitting in both games.”

The Lakers hope their solid play continues in the double elimination region tournament this weekend, as they are still pursuing the Region 7C title and a potential bye in the first round of the state tournament.

The top four teams in the region advance to state and Waconia and Plato have already earned two of those four spots. The region’s top two teams will receive a bye in the first round at state, something that will happen for the Lakers if they defeat the Plato Bluejays in their next game, which will be played in Brownton at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9. The teams met only once this season, a 10-8 victory for the visiting Bluejays on July 13.

“Plato will be a good test as they are swinging the bats really well,” Olson noted. “Winning this game really is a big advantage with the winner getting a bye in the first round of the state tournament.”

If Waconia defeats Plato on Saturday, the Lakers will play for the region title in Brownton at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 10. A win would mean a region title for the Lakers while a loss would force a rematch of the contest 30 minutes after the end of the game thanks to the double elimination format of the tournament.

If the Lakers lose to Plato on Saturday, the Lakers would play a TBD opponent in Brownton at 7 p.m. on Saturday. A loss

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