CLOQUET — If something good can be said about the Grand Rapids Post 60 American Legion baseball team’s loss to Lakeview (Duluth East) on Thursday in the American Legion Minnesota Sub-State 10 Tournament in Cloquet, it’s the fact that Grand Rapids is set up well to absorb the loss and still earn a state berth.
That’s because Grand Rapids has an extremely deep pitching staff and it will be tested now for the remainder of the tournament. Manager Bill Kinnunen said he still has five pitchers who have not seen action and his team is hardly out of contention for the district championship.
“We have to beat West Duluth Friday to get back to Lakeview. Lakeview plays Brainerd after us so should Lakeview win that game we would have to beat Lakeview twice Saturday if we are lucky enough to win Friday,” Kinnunen said. “Then if Brainerd beats Lakeview we would have to beat Brainerd first to get a shot at Lakeview.
“We have five guys that haven’t thrown yet so we have plenty of arms. We have to hit the ball; you can’t strike out 14 times and expect to win the game.”
Game No. 1
Grand Rapids 9
Pequot Lakes 2
Grand Rapids opened the tournament on Wednesday with a 9-2 victory over Pequot Lakes.
Wyatt Zuehlke pitched the first 5 1/3 innings to pick up the win on the mound for Post 60. He allowed two runs on three hits while walking two and striking out five. Luke Kinnunen threw the last 1 2/3 innings and yielded no runs on one hit.
Grant Anderson had two hits, scored two runs and drove in another while Kodi Miller had two hits. Gideon Beck had a triple while Luke Kinnunen hit a three-run home run and drove in four runs total in the contest. Owen Linder had a double and a RBI.
“We had hits all through the lineup and we scored one run in each of the first four innings, didn’t score in the fifth and then scored five in the sixth to bust it open,” said Kinnunen. “Wyatt threw the ball well as he kept the ball down.”
Game No. 2
Grand Rapids 8
Grand Rapids next faced the host team, Cloquet, later Wednesday evening, and came away with an 8-1 win. Cloquet advanced with a victory over Hibbing in its first game.
Ty Karnes turned in a great performance in hurling a complete game for Post 60. In his seven innings of work, he allowed one run on five hits while issuing two walks and fanning four.
Grant Anderson was 4-for-4, scored three runs and drove in one for Grand Rapids while Brooks Bachmann had two hits, three RBIs and a run scored. Gideon Beck hit a double and scored twice.
“Ty threw a very nice game and we played defense behind him. We turned two or three double plays and the top of the order hit the ball as I think the first three guys had seven of our eight hits,” Kinnunen said. “You need the top of the order getting on base if you are going to win.”
Game No. 3
Grand Rapids 2
Grand Rapids lost to Lakeville and its big left-handed pitcher, Jaxon Edwards, by a 4-2 score on Thursday in Cloquet to be handed its first loss in the double-elimination tournament.
Lakeville scored the eventual winning runs in the top of the seventh when it scored twice using three hits, a walk and a key error.
“We had the tying run on the second base when the game ended,” said Kinnunen. “They had to bring in a reliever as they ran out of pitches for Edwards and then we got called out on a borderline call. We should have swung the bat but we didn’t because we thought it was a ball.”
Brooks Bachmann pitched the distance for Grand Rapids in picking up the loss. In his seven innings of work he allowed four runs – just one of which was earned – while giving up seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
Grand Rapids had just two hits in the game with Wyatt Zuehlke getting both, a single and a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at 2-2.