Blackduck ready for first state tourney
CHASKA - The Blackduck baseball team will make history 3 p.m. today when it meets BOLD in the quarterfinals of the state Class A baseball tournament.
Both the Drakes and the Warriors will be appearing at the state meet for the first time and both will be taking 22-4 records into the contest.
Today's other lower-bracket opener sees New York Mills (23-0) taking on St. Agnes (20-6).
In the upper bracket Browerville (22-3) meets Kenyon-Wanamingo (19-6) and Ely (20-3) squares off against Lac qui Parle (16-9).
A new champion is assured as last year's winner, Eden Valley-Watkins, was dethroned during its section playoffs.
If the Drakes win today they will take on either New York Mills or St. Agnes 2:30 p.m. Friday in Chaska. A loss would drop the Drakes into the consolation round and a 12:30 p.m. Friday game at Jordan.
The consolation final is set for 3 p.m. Friday in Jordan while the third-place game will be at 5 p.m. Friday in Chaska.
The Class A title game will be played noon Monday at Target Field.
Blackduck may be considered the underdog against BOLD but the Drakes are willing to accept that role.
"There is something calming about being the underdog," said Blackduck coach Dwight Kalvig. "BOLD is expected to win because teams from small towns in northern Minnesota aren't usually considered favorites.
"We're facing a team with a rich tradition but we also play quality baseball in Blackduck."
Kalvig doesn't know a great deal about BOLD. The Drakes and Warriors have not played any mutual opponents and geography limits the amount of information that is available.
"I do know that BOLD is a strong senior-dominated team with solid pitching," Kalvig said. "They have a kid with 10 wins on the mound and another with six or seven. I don't think they have dominant hitting in the lineup but it seems that they get the hits at the right time."
'We're not nervous," said senior Aaron Nissen. "We're anxious to get the game going and we're proud to be the first team from Blackduck to make it to state. And we should be proud."
Cody Bergquist echoed those sentiments.
"I'm feeling great about being at state," he said. "I don't feel any pressure but I don't think it has hit everybody yet. But the time might come when it's like, 'wow, we made it.'"
Senior Galen Martin plans on soaking in the entire experience.
"We will be supporting each other and who knows what I'll remember most," Martin said. "Maybe it will be an amazing hit or an amazing play on a ground ball. We'll just have to see."
Lucas Krabbenhoft believes that the Drakes can challenge for a state championship and that the section tournament proved that Blackduck can match talents with any team in the field.
"Some people may be satisfied that we made state but I think we've proven that we can play with anybody," he said.
"Last year Red Lake County finished fourth at state and by winning the section we've proven that we are a good team. I think we've proven that we belong here."