High School baseball: Cass Lake-Bena making a run at perfect regular season
Wednesday afternoon the Cass Lake-Bena baseball team improved to 19-0 with a convincing 16-0 home victory over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
The Panthers will try to complete their unbeaten regular season Friday when they host Laporte at 4:30 p.m.
"It's been a very fun year," said CL-B head coach Ken Wittner. "I didn't think we'd start the year with five victories on the road like we did and I didn't think we'd be unbeaten at this stage of the season. The kids have played very well."
Cass Lake-Bena has been tested a few times this spring but most of its games have been one-sided because the opponents do not possess the pitching or the offense to counter CL-B's strengths.
"We have depth at all of the positions but especially with the pitching," Wittner said. "A team with only one pitcher will go only so far but we have a deep staff. And that is what you need, especially during the tournaments."
Headlining that staff are seniors Tyler Trosen and Mike Hanson. Trosen has posted a 6-0 record while Hanson is 5-0. Also at 5-0 is junior Chad Wittner.
"Smaller schools usually don't have this much depth in the pitching staff," Wittner said. "Our pitchers haven't given up many runs. All they do is throw strikes and let the defense make the plays."
Cass Lake-Bena also boasts a solid offensive lineup. Wittner is hitting about .400 at the leadoff spot and Nolan Goss, a 4-year starter, bats second. He is the team's leading hitter this year with an average over .500.
Hanson has a .400 average from the third position and has over 100 hits in his career.
Trosen bats clean-up and is hitting about .300. Caleb Fisher boasts a .400 mark and is the leading power hitter with four home runs.
Completing the lineup are Jake Fisher (.400), Mike Masten (.300), Taylor Humphrey and Brett Fredrickson.
The bench includes Travis Cloud, Brian Vail, Ben Ruzek, Wesley Moe, Jordan Collins, Anthony Swanhome and Kenny Cloud.
"Offensively we can score a bunch of runs in any given inning," Wittner said. "But our pitching and our experience is what we rely on."
Since starting the 2007 season 6-8 the Panthers have gone 57-11-1. They finished 2007 with a 14-9 record and in 2008 improved to 14-3. Last spring CL-B finished 17-7-1.
In each of the past three seasons Cass Lake-Bena has advanced to the section tournament, losing in the first round in 2207 and 2008 and falling to Northern Freeze 17-0 in last spring's title game.
"The kids haven't forgotten that game," Wittner said. "They know what happened and know what they need to do to get to the next level. And everyone's goal this year is the state tournament."
The road to the state tourney begins June 1 with the sub-section meet. The top four seeds will have home-field advantage for the first round and the action will switch to Bemidji State University for the semifinals and final.
BSU will also host the section tournament.
"When the season began I thought we had a quality team but I had no idea we'd be unbeaten," Wittner said. "It's been a great season and one we'll always remember."
Mike Hanson tossed a 1-hitter and the offense erupted for 12 hits as the Cass Lake-Bena baseball team blitzed Nevis 15-1 Tuesday in Nevis.
The victory was CL-B's 18th in as many starts and the Panthers improved to 11-0 in league play. In their last 69 games the Panthers are 57-11-1.
Cass Lake-Bena scored two runs in the opening stanza on an error and singles by Chad Wittner and Caleb Fisher.
Nevis answered with one in its half of the frame, an inning which began with Dylan Stenberg's single. Stenberg's hit proved to be Nevis' only one of the afternoon.
The Panthers settled the issue with 10 runs in the second. Mike Masten, Wittner, Hanson, Fisher and Jake Ellis all had singles and Tyler Trosen belted a home run.
Trosen finished with a home run and a double and Fisher contributed a pair of hits.
Cass Lake-Bena hosted WHA Wednesday and entertains Laporte Friday.
CL-B 2(10)1 11 - 15 12 0
Nevis 1 0 0 00 - 1 1 5
Hanson (W) and Humphrey. K-8, BB-2
Stenberg (L), Phillips (3) and Anderson. K-3, BB-8