Amateur Baseball: Serpents pounce on Bears in CCVL C playoffs
CANNON FALLS – Two innings into Wednesday’s Classic Cannon Valley League playoff game, both Cannon Falls and Lake City were staring at the likelihood that each would have to blow through a bunch of pitching just to get through nine innings.
With a weekend possibly full of games, arms are at a premium. And with seven runs between the two squads after just the second inning, there was worry.
But Kyle Sursely buckled down and pitched a complete game for the Serpents, who won 11-4 at John Burch Park.
“That was key. I had to throw him back out there and get him some confidence (after being roughed up by Red Wing on Sunday) because he is capable. And he was bringing it,” said Lake City manager Scott Gwaltney. “He probably had a little too much testosterone early, he was high in the zone. But our bats came, too. We really hit the ball hard. And that’s what we’ve been doing all year long. We normally hit the ball well. We usually out-hit our opponents, it’s just a matter of too many walks or something else. But we put the bat on the hard, and that’s what I expected.”
After the Bears took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, Lake City responded with a five-run bottom half, including a three-run home run to left field from Zachary Wolfe that, as Gwaltney later stated, was the beginning of the Serpents offensive assault.
In the third, Derek Sogla hit a solo shot to right-center field, and in the fourth, Matt Miller put three more on the board with a homer to right field.
“All good hitters right there. It’s the solid heart of our order. Matt Miller has been hitting the crap out of the ball all year long. It was awesome,” Gwaltney said.
Austin Baab (twice), Ben Edelbach and Brett Gwaltney each added RBI singles.
Cannon Falls’ starter Noah Callister was chased with two outs in the fourth inning after giving up nine runs, all earned, on 10 hits and a walk. Callister struck out two, but his reliance on the fastball, and the offense’s inability to put together a big inning, was more than enough to break the Bears.
“We just didn’t show up, flat out. Pitcher didn’t show up, hitters didn’t show up, we just didn’t show up to play the game,” said Cannon Falls manager/first baseman Keith Meyers. “We couldn’t work ahead in the count. We couldn’t throw our breaking ball for strikes, and team like Lake City, if you throw fastballs all night, they’re going to pound it all over the park. That’s just the bottom line. That’s amateur baseball. If you can’t throw your breaking ball over the plate, you might as well throw a thumber out there.”
Levi Prestegard worked 3 2/3 innings for Cannon Falls, and Austin Jacobs pitched the eighth. The Bears, the no. 3 seed, hosted the game but were the visitors to the second-seeded Serpents. Using three pitchers in the game was not ideal, but only one really mattered.
“Jacobs will be fine, he’ll be back. The starter is gone this weekend, so that’s why he started tonight,” Meyers said. “We just have to win two before we lose one. And then we’re in. We’re still alive.”
Zeke Williams had a two-run single in the second for Cannon Falls, with Meyers adding an RBI single in the third, and Alex Tauer doing the same in the eighth.
For Sursely, who allowed six hits and five walks with four strikeouts, and Lake City, the win makes advancement to the next round that much easier, even if they run into a motivated Cannon Falls in the process.
“We (like it). And I’m pretty sure we’ll see Keith the next time. Once you spank a team, you better make sure you take care of them the second time, too,” Gwaltney said.