DULUTH — The Grand Rapids High School baseball team knocked the ball all over the park and in the process was rude to Chisago Lakes’ top two hurlers Saturday in the Section 7AAA Baseball Tournament winners’ bracket final in Duluth.
The Thunderhawks ripped out 17 hits in the game against No. 1 seed Chisago Lakes and came away with a convincing 10-5 victory and put themselves in the driver’s seat to win a section championship.
The team Grand Rapids will face in the championship round will need to defeat the Thunderhawks twice to win a section title. Should Grand Rapids win the first game, which is slated for Wednesday, June 9, at 11 a.m. at Wade Stadium in Duluth, it then will punch its ticket for the state baseball tournament. Should a second game be needed, it will be played in the same venue at 1:30 p.m. with the winner earning the state berth.
Grand Rapids is now 16-7 for the season, has won 12 of its past 13 games and is on a six-game winning streak entering Wednesday’s action.
Grand Rapids has a deep pitching staff and manager Bill Kinnunen expects everyone to be available on Wednesday. He added that the Thunderhawks most likely will start sophomore Kyle Henke on the mound.
“Everybody should be well-rested and hopefully we come out and beat them right away and give everybody else a rest,” Kinnunen said. “The other teams are going to have to burn up pitching to get to us. We are sitting in a good position right now and hopefully we can take advantage of it.
“Our goal all the time is to get to this game and see what happens and hopefully win it and we can get on to our next goal which is to bring home a state championship.”
Sophomore Myles Gunderson started on the mound for Grand Rapids and pitched the first six innings to pick up the win, having been removed because he hit the pitch limit. He allowed three runs – only one of which was earned – while yielding six hits. He walked one and struck out seven.
Garett Drotts pitched the seventh inning and allowed two runs on two hits while walking two and fanning two. He also balked in a run.
All 10 Thunderhawks who batted in the game had a hit. Ren Morque had three hits with two doubles and two RBIs while Ben Keske had a double and a triple and scored three runs. Wyatt Holcomb had two hits with a triple and two RBIs and Kyle Henke had two hits with a double. Kodi Miller had two hits and a RBI and Garett Drotts added a pair of hits.
“We faced (Chisago Lakes’) top two guys and knocked them both out so we swung the bats the best we had all season and that’s good to see the bats peaking at this time of the year because during the regular season that was five games worth of hits right there,” Kinnunen said.
GR 112 001 5 — 10 17 3
CL 020 100 2— 5 8 5
Grand Rapids: Myles Gunderson (W); Garett Drotts (7th); 2B-Ren Morque 2, Ben Keske, Kyle Henke; 3B-Ben Keske, Wyatt Holcomb.