2019 Regular Season (From: www.mnbaseballhub.com)
The 2019 Prior Lake Lakers had high hopes to complete unfinished business under new Coach Allen Iversen following the Lakers 2018 season under Greg Nesbitt that captured the South Suburban Conference regular season title before a quick 0-2 playoff run concluded 2018 for the Laker 9. Iverson had been an assistant on the 2018 Lakers so had awareness of the players that would compete in 2019.
The 2019 Lakers started strong from the gate posting a 5-1 record before dropping 3 straight in what would become an up and down regular season in the grueling SSC. Among weather/field related oddities of the season & Spring were PL hosting Farmington 4/18 (schedule change, 10-4 win) before playing visitor in PL to Burnsville 4/19 (3-1 loss) and non league game/Section opponent vs Eden Prairie Saturday 4/20 (4-3 win). Burnsville & Eden Prairie had not been allowed to use their “home diamonds”, Alimagnet Park and Round Lake Stadium respectively, and Veterans Field in PL was ready and able to host games to help keep the season on schedule.
The Lakers competed well but stumbled in the home stretch of the season dropping 5 of their final 6 games (last regular season win 12-3 at Eagan May 11) but showed promise in 1 run losses to conclude the regular season vs Lakeville South (L 2-1 May 15) and 2019 SSC Champions Eastview (L 3-2 May 16). With the other MSHSL Section 2AAAA playing games the final week, the Lakers had completed their regular season and had to let the balance of schedules from section teams wrap up to determine playoff seeding.
The 2019 Section 2AAAA playoff seeding was determined exclusively by a formula, the QRF, that calculates on the season of the team as reflected by the opponents played and how they fared but reportedly does not factor the MSHSL class of opponents (There are 4 classes in baseball with SSC being entirely AAAA schools as well the entire Lakers 20 game regular season schedule being AAAA level opponents).
While the 2019 Lakers were 9-9 in the SSC for the season and non league section games 1-1 for a 10-10 regular season, the Lakers tallied a 3-1 record against Section teams (2-0 record vs Shakopee, defeating Eden Prairie and losing to Edina). As the final games of the regular season played out the PL Lakers were slotted into the #6 Seed of the 8 Team Section 2AAAA. Of note, the Lakers 2019 regular season featured a better road than home record.
The #6 Lakers traveled to Chanhassen to square with the #3 seeded Storm to open the 2019 Playoffs. With rain on Memorial Day, the game would move to Tuesday May 28. While the Storm started quick keeping the Lakers off the board in the 1st 2 innings, they posted 3 runs in the 1st and 1run in the 2nd inning for a 4-0 lead off Laker starting pitcher AJ Lattery. After pitching a scoreless 3rd and 4th, Alex Watterman replaced Lattery pitching the final 3 innings. The Lakers put up a run in the top of the 5th inning while the Storm posted 1 run in the bottom of the 6th inning before the Lakers offense exploded for 5 runs with 2 outs in the top of the 7th and held on, keeping Chanhassen off the board for the improbable ending and playoff opening 6-5 win in the double elimination Section 2AAAA Tournament.
The PL Laker 5/28 win over Chanhassen gives the Lakers a quick turnaround and rematch from the regular season meeting April 23, a 5-3 Hornet win. The Lakers head to Edina Wednesday May 29 with a 600PM scheduled 1st pitch at Braemar Park in Edina. #2 seeded Edina held off #7 seeded Minnetonka by a 3-2 score, also played May 28. The Hornets posted a regular season record of 12-8 while alternating wins & losses down the season stretch with a 3-4 record in their final 7 games including a 4-2 regular season ending loss to Eden Prairie.
The winner of PL (#6) at Edina (#2) Wednesday May 29 will play vs the winner of the May 29 Eden Prairie(#1) hosting Bloomington Jefferson (#5) on Friday 5/31 while the losers will face losers bracket survivors from
Shakopee (#8) at Chaska (#4) and Minnetonka (#7) at Chanhassen (#3) also being played on May 29. (Bracket Link Below)
The PL Lakers in Game 2 of Section 2AAAA playoffs rallied after deficits of 1-0 and 4-2 posting 5 runs in the 5th and 6th innings to knock the #2 seeded Hornets to the losers bracket at Braemar Park in Edina on Wed May 29. Ben Eisenberg picked up the win for PL throwing the final 4 scoreless innings in relief of starting pitcher Russ Tanner who threw the 1st 3 frames. The win followed by 24 hours their 5 run 7th inning in the 6-5 opening game win at #3 Chanhassen who was eliminated the following day by #7 seeded Minnetonka.
The “winner bracket final” squares the #6 PL Lakers with #1 seeded Eden Prairie Eagles at Round Lake Stadium on Friday May 31 with a scheduled 6PM 1st pitch. The teams squared in a game moved to Prior Lake on April 20 with the Lakers prevailing by a 4-3 score in the regular season. The winner of PL at EP will host the remaining team from Losers bracket on Tuesday June 4 in the double elimination tournament while the loser will play the survivor of #2 Edina VS
#4 Chaska and #5 Bloomington Jefferson VS #7 Minnetonka. The losers bracket games are played at higher seed May 31 with final 2 squaring Saturday June 1 11AM, also at highest seed to face the loser of PL at EP. (SEE BRACKET LINK BELOW)
In game 3 of the 2019 Section 2AAAA high school playoffs the PL Lakers (#6 QRF seed) spotted an early lead to the Eden Prairie Eagles (#1 QRF seed) behind starting pitcher Alex Watermann. The Eagles blanked the Lakers and got on the board in the 1st inning with a 2 run home run by EP outfielder Jordan Amundson on a warm and windy start of the winners bracket final (last 2 undefeated teams) with optimal soil temperature reported. Watermann settled on the mound putting zeros up with the Lakers threatening but plating only 1 run scoring on a wild pitch in the 3rd frame to answer the host Eagles. Eagles starting pitcher, lefty Matt Sherman was lifted from the game with 2 outs in the 4th inning.
With a 2-1 score after 4 complete, the Eagles chased PL starting pitcher Watermann (4 1/3 IP) who was replaced by Ben Eisenberg with 1 out in the bottom of the 5th and fought to limit what would become a 3 run inning and 5-1 score for host Eden Prairie. The Lakers held playoff form posting 2 runs in the 6th inning with Eisenberg & the Lakers blanking the host Eagles in the bottom and a 5-3 score heading to the 7th. The Laker fans following game 1 & game 2 wins of the double elimination playoff expected another rally with the Lakers plating a run in the last inning and Watermann reaching 2nd base for potential tie but outfielder Jack Murray, who has chipped in for the Lakers down the stretch run of 2019, was unable to drive him home to end the game.
The Lakers matched the Eagles with 7 hits in the hard fought battle and played error free ball but also stranded runners in the loss versus Eden Prairie. The Lakers have improved as a team, fought hard down the stretch of the 2019 season and showed an ability they will need to tap into needing to string together 3 straight wins to advance to the MSHSL State Tournament for the 1st time in school history under 1st year Head Coach Allen Iverson. The ’19 Lakers won 4 straight to start 2019 and has 2 wins twice in the regular season as well consecutive wins over talented Chanhassen and Edina teams to start the Section 2AAAA Tournament.
The Lakers, in “Final 3” of section playoffs will await results from Saturday June 1 1100AM matchup at Braemar Park between #5 Bloomington Jefferson at/VS #2 Edina and travel to the winner Monday June 3 for a 600PM “Losers Bracket Final”. The survivor of Losers bracket play will need 2 wins at #1 seeded Eden Prairie Eagles with the 1st opportunity Tuesday June 4 600PM at Round Lake Stadium. (SEE BRACKET LINK BELOW)