BASEBALL: Experienced Blackduck eyeing state again
BLACKDUCK — The baseball parks in Jordan and Chaska are among the best in Minnesota. In the small towns of southern Minnesota, baseball is one of the threads that binds the community. Having a beautiful and manicured baseball complex is not a luxury — it is a priority.
Last spring, Blackduck baseball players, coaches and fans had the opportunity to visit Chaska as the Drakes advanced to the Minnesota State High School Class A tournament. Chaska was one of the event’s sites.
This year, Jordan will host the first round and championship games of the state tournament and Chaska will be home to the consolation contests.
After last spring’s taste of southern Minnesota hospitality, the Drakes, who went 1-2 and finished fourth at the 2012 tournament, set their sights on making a return trip to Jordan and Chaska.
Tonight at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls the Drakes will have the opportunity to accomplish that goal.
“We’ve been mission bound since the first practice,” said Blackduck coach Dwight Kalvig. “We have had a real desire to return to state and we would love to have that opportunity.
“Last year we got the taste of playing on the big stage and we enjoyed that experience. We would like to experience that again.”
Blackduck has fashioned a 16-2 record this season, working its way through the Section 8A tournament all the way to the championship series. Also remaining in the title hunt are Win-E-Mac (7-9) and Norman County (18-4). Those two teams will square off at 2 p.m. today in the final game of the elimination round.
The winner will advance to take on the Drakes at 4:30 p.m. If Blackduck wins that game the coaches, players and fans can make their plans for a trip to Jordan. If the Drakes lose, they will have another chance to win the crown as a second game of the championship series will be played Friday.
Blackduck has rolled through the Section 8A tournament and Tuesday the Drakes sent Win-E-Mac into the elimination bracket by downing the Patriots 11-7. Earlier in the tournament Blackduck defeated Red Lake 11-1, Northland-Remer 12-2 and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 11-2.
In Tuesday’s contest Blackduck rallied from a 2-1 deficit with a run in the third and the Drakes continued to attack the rest of the way. A series of walks and Jake Krabbenhoft’s single combined for three runs in the fourth and the Drakes padded their margin with two in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Blackduck did make some mistakes but the Drakes always landed on their feet.
“The key to Tuesday’s win was not letting our own mistakes get the best of us,” Kalvig said. “When we did make a mistake we didn’t compound it with another. It wasn’t the best game we have played this year but when we got the lead we were able to stay in control.”
Dylan Weisert earned the pitching victory and Krabbenhoft finished with 1.2 innings of relief. The pair combined for nine strikeouts.
Jake Peterson is today’s likely starting pitcher.
“We’re looking forward to the trip to Thief River Falls (for the championship series),” Kalvig said. “The kids have worked hard since the first practice and they have survived a difficult spring. Coming out of the winner’s bracket gives us the upper hand but we know there are challenges ahead. And we’re looking forward to meeting those challenges.”
Blackduck 101 324 0 - 11 9 2
Win-E-Mac 200 013 1 - 7 7 2
Weisert (W, 6-1), Krabbenhoft (6) and Bales. K-2, BB-5
Tradewell (L), Walker (6) and Svalen. K-9, BB-8
Section 8A Tournament
NCTC, Thief River Falls
Blackduck 11, Win-E-Mac 7
Norman County 8, Northland-Remer 1
Red Lake County 12, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 2
Norman County 10, Red Lake County 0
Game 1: Win-E-Mac vs. Norman County, 2 p.m. (loser eliminated)
Game 2: Blackduck vs. Game 1 winner, 4:30 p.m.
Game 3: Repeat of Game 2, if necessary, TBD