The Prior Lake Mudcats, the #4 Seed from the DRS/Region 3C Tournament drew the Fergus Falls Hurricanes, 2019 Countryside League and MBA Region 11C Champions for week 2 at Delano Ballpark for an 11 AM tilt on Saturday August 24. The ‘Canes were among the 16 MBA Class “C” Region playoff Champions who had a week 1 bye in the round of 32 in the 48 team 2019 MBA Class “C” Tournament Championships hosted by Delano, Maple Lake and Dassel. The Mudcats had defeated the Foley Lumberjacks 4-1 in week 1 action to advance.
The Mudcats offense started the game in the top of the 1st inning with shortstop Alex Watterman stranded at 2nd base after fighting the count opening the game to lace a groundball hard along the 3rd base line past the 3rd baseman to start the game with a single and advancing to 2nd on a passed ball but the Hurricanes recorded 3 straight outs. PL sent week 1 winner, ‘Cats veteran pitcher Ben Morrison, to the mound to square with Fergus Falls who sent Peter Gaustad and the early game was knotted 0-0 after 1.
The Mudcats broke the early deadlock plating a run in the top of the 2nd inning scoring 1 with DH Greg Faue getting hit by pitch and advancing to 2nd on a balk before catcher Lucas Pumper fought to a 3-1 count before ripping a ball that bounced over first base with the fleet footed Faue wheeling around 3rd to score. The lead was short lived and was quickly answered as Fergus Falls scored 4 in the bottom tallying hits on Morrison for a 4-1 score for the ‘Canes after 2 complete innings. In the top of the 5th, trailing by a 4-1 score, The Luke Weber, with Jerad Lehrer aboard with 2 outs after a hit by pitch, hustled down to 1st base tearing out of the box while Fergus Falls 1 bagger (& flow leader) Darin Stanislawski was able to knock down and gather a ball off the bat of Weber who wheeled as both players dove for the base on a play that recorded the 3rd out while showing the heart of the players to compete in the week 2 Final 32 game of Class “C”.
The Fergus Falls batters were shut down by Morrison in the 3rd and 4th innings but plated an additional run in the bottom of the 5th on a leadoff triple by Bozek and a sacrifice fly by DH Tosten Mann making the score 5-1 before a shutout 6th inning that completed his day pitching, striking out 7 in 6 innings innings and walking 2 with 6 timely hits and 5 earned runs. Morrison moved to 3rd base replacing Brad Schoenrock who had snared a sharp hit down the line on a backhand in the 6th inning and fired to 1st base where Jared Lehrer was able to adjust to receive the ball and stretch for the force out. In the 7th, the Mudcats defense turned in another gem as leftfield Cole Bjorge with runners aboard broke deep on a line drive to left reaching above and behind as he closed on the leftfield wall making the snare to end the inning. The Mudcats plated their 2nd run in the 8th inning on Eric Hinnecamp (Long Prairie pitcher draftee) with a leadoff walk issued to ‘Cats 2nd baseman Luke Weber that was followed by a walk to leftfielder Cole Bjorge who was put out by double play ripped by rightfielder Jake Lehrer for 2 outs and Weber on 3rd. BJ Benz ripped a grounder up the middle for a RBI single to score Weber closing the score to 5-2 after 7 ½ innings.
Morrison followed with a strong play from 3rd base himself after his pitching stint in the 8th hopping like a puma to share a low foul popup extending across the walkup to home in front of the 3rd base dugout for an out as the ‘Cats tried to fight but the ‘Canes answered with 2 runs on a 2 RBI double with 2 outs by ‘Canes leadoff batter Anderson to make the score 7-2 after 8 innings. In the top of the 9th, the Mudcats went down in order 1-2-3 with Alex Watterman grounding out to end the game and Mudcats season.
Draftee Ted Christian from the Montgomery Mallards tossed a scoreless 7th inning but yielded 2 Fergus Falls runs in the 8th in his 2 inning stint for the ‘Cats yielding 3 hits, 2 earned runs while walking 2 and striking out 1 ‘Cane. Fergus Falls starting pitcher Peter Gaustad worked out of jams in 7 innings work allowing 2 Mudcat runs, both earned, scattering 3 hits and issuing 4 walks and hitting 3 Mudcats while striking out 9. He was relieved by hard throwing Eric Hinnenkamp who allowed 2 hits and no runs facing 7 ‘Cats in the final 2 innings. The Hurricanes top of the order, 2nd baseman Jake Anderson (2-5, 2B,2RBI) and 3rd baseman Thomas Bozek (2-4, 3B, run, 2 RBI) carried the offense with 5 other ‘Canes collecting hits including the 7th hitter in the order centerfielder Alex Hensch (1-2, BB, run, 2RBI, sac).
Mudcats first baseman Jerad Lehrer was the lone PL Mudcat with multiple hits leading off with a single in the 3rd inning and a 2 out single to right center in the 7th inning and was also hit by pitch on a 2-3 day at the plate, reaching 3 of 4 appearances in the ‘Cats 9 slot. The Mudcats also had hits from Watterman (1-5) and RBI hits from Pumper (1-3, RBI, HBP) and centerfielder BJ Benz (1-4, RBI) on a team 5 hit day.
The defense in the game was stellar with both teams completing challenging plays in the field in an error free game by both squads. The ‘Cats also fell victim to 3 double plays on offense that ended threats and stranded runners in the loss.
The Mudcats complete the 2019 season with a final record of 18-13 advancing through DRS Playoffs to capture the 4th seed in Region 3C and finishing with a 5-3 playoffs and 1-1 record at the 2019 MBA Class “C” State Tournament Championship in the Final 32 teams of the State.
FROM THE PRIOR LAKE MUDCATS TWITTER FEED: We would like to Thank our volunteers and our fans for a fun successful year! We cant do this without you. A great group of guys to play with too. Thanks Ted, Phil, Zach for coming along. Get out and see some baseball in two great communities in Delano and Maple Lake @mbastate19
There was a great showing in Delano by local baseball fans and supporters from the DRS League and Prior Lake attending the Mudcats final game of 2019 including pitcher draftees representing their teams & DRS League: Ted Christian (Montgomery Mallards), Phil Tisdel (Lonsdale Aces) and Zach Sirek (New Prague Orioles). The MBA “townball” Class “B” & “C” Tournament Championships continue in week 3 at Delano, Maple Lake and Dassel (3rd site) and KCHK radio 95.5/1350 will continue to cover the scores and brackets as play continues with champions crowned in Class “B” & “C” on Labor Day with representatives from DRS (New Market Muskies-C) and RVL (Jordan Brewers-C, Chanhassen RedBirds-B and Chaska Cubs-B) contending in Class B Final 6 double elimination and Class C Final 16 single elimination. The Prior Lake Mudcats & PLABA encourage “townball” fans to check out the great parks, teams and SUPPORT MBA TOWNBALL!
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