BASEBALL: Blackduck ends season with 8-2 loss to Floodwood in consolation round
CHASKA — After Friday’s 8-2 loss to Floodwood in the consolation semifinals of the state high school Class A baseball tournament, Blackduck baseball players and coaches posed for a team photo. When those in the front row went to their knees, little did they know that they would have to hold that position for almost five minutes because every parent and most of the fans required a keepsake.
“I can’t say enough about our fan support,” said Blackduck coach Dwight Kalvig. “It has been tremendous; especially (Friday) when you consider that we were playing in the consolation bracket.”
Despite going 0-2 at the state tournament the Drakes had a memorable season and this year’s group of players picked up where last year’s team left off.
“Last year we made it to the state for the first time in school history and right away we thought we’d be heading back this year,” said Drakes senior centerfielder Mitch Sparby. “During the offseason we worked hard on our training and we went to summer baseball camps because we wanted to get back to state. And we did.”
As was the case during Thursday’s 10-0 loss to Osakis in the opening round of the state tournament, on Friday Blackduck spotted Floodwood an early lead and never was able to mount a comeback.
“Everything is magnified when you get to the state tournament,” Kalvig said. “If you have a one or two-run lead it becomes larger than it really is and the team that’s behind puts more pressure on itself than it has too. That happened to us and we played a little tentative and not as loose as we normally do.”
Offensively the Drakes struggled as Floodwood pitcher Riley Bernsdorf retired the first 11 Drakes he faced.
The Polar Bears fared better at the plate as they transformed a pair of singles and a fielder’s choice grounder into a first-inning run.
Floodwood continued its early attack in the second inning. Helped by two walks which set the table for 2-run singles by Riley Bernsdorf and Trevor Bernsdorf, the Polar Bears scored four runs and forged a 5-0 advantage.
“At the state tournament everybody is competing with one goal in mind and that is to win the state championship,” said Blackduck’s Dylan Weisert. “At this level you have to throw strikes and you have to play defense. We did play well defensively but the walks killed us in this tournament.”
After issuing 10 walks in Thursday’s loss to Osakis the Blackduck pitchers walked six on Friday and four of those free passes eventually scored.
Floodwood upped its cushion to 6-0 with a solo tally in the third but Blackduck responded with a pair in the upper fourth.
With two outs Weisert broke up Riley Bernsdorf’s no-hit bid with a single to deep short and Jake Peterson followed with an RBI double to deep center. Shane Fenske then reached on an infield single and Peterson scored when the throw to first was in the dirt and escaped Floodwood first baseman Ross Schminski.
“We had high energy in the dugout, especially after we scored those two runs, and we never gave up,” Weisert said. “But we just couldn’t get the hits to fall the rest of the game.”
Blackduck’s only other offensive threat came in the sixth when Jake Krabbenhoft opened the frame with a single.
Floodwood promptly snuffed that opportunity, however, with a double play.
In the bottom of the inning the Polar Bears regained their six-run cushion with a pair of runs. Helping fuel the inning was Riley Bernsdorf who delivered one of his three singles. He also ripped a triple earlier in the game.
“Coming into this year many people thought that last year was a fluke but that just motivated us to prove them wrong,” Fenske said. “Being at state last year and again this year are experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. And to be able to play at state twice is something very special.”
“I enjoyed everything about the state tournament,” Sparby added. “The road to get here was amazing and we had our ups and our downs. But we had many more ups than downs.”
The goal for next year’s team is to make reservations for Chaska and Jordan for early June. Although that is a lofty goal this year’s team proved that anything is possible.
“The way this team developed in such a short season (because of the extended winter) was amazing,” Kalvig said. ”I’m very impressed with the way the seniors maintained focus and the commitment they had to Blackduck baseball.
“We had a great season and, even though we went 0-2 at state, there are many teams in Minnesota that would trade places with us in an instant,” the coach continued. “I am as proud of these kids as any coach can be.”
Floodwood 8, Blackduck 2
Blackduck 000 200 0 – 2 5 2
Floodwood 141 002 x – 8 7 1
Krabbenhoft (L), Peterson (3) and Bales. K-3, BB-6
R.Bernsdorf (W) and Heggedahl. K-6, BB-0