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Amateur Baseball: Bears fall in 10, drop 4th straight

Cannon Falls catcher Taylor Pagel (right) prepares to tag out Dundas' Tyler Jones during the third inning of Wednesday's Classic Cannon Valley League game at John Burch Park.1 / 3
Cannon Falls shortstop Zeke Williams misses a ground ball during the top of the third inning of Wednesday's game against Dundas at Cannon Falls. The Bears had two of their three errors in the inning on the way to a 5-4 10-inning loss.2 / 3
Cannon Falls pitcher Keith Meyers uncorks a pitch during the first inning of Wednesday's Classic Cannon Valley League game against Dundas at John Burch Park. Meyers struck out 10 and went nine innings in a no-decision3 / 3

CANNON FALLS – Dropping three straight games heading into Wednesday, Cannon Falls’ offense had fallen flat, getting outscored by a slim 5-1 margin.

After a promising 8-1 start to the season, the offensive slump has been tough to swallow for Cannon Falls.

“In that (losing streak), we were one, two, three hits away from winning a couple games,” said Bears’ manager/pitcher Keith Meyers. “That’s the way baseball is.”

In Wednesday’s Classic Cannon Valley League game against Dundas, Cannon Falls finally generated a great deal of offense with four runs on 12 hits. Problem for the Bears: the Dukes came away with the victory.

Tied 4-4 after nine innings, Dundas took the lead for good on an RBI single by Mike Ludwig for a 5-4 CCVL victory at John Burch Park.

Losers of four straight, Cannon Falls (8-5, 3-5 CCVL) has dropped three one-run games to Northfield, the Milroy Irish and Dundas during that span.

“Every year, we seem to hit this mid-season slump,” said Bears’ right fielder Brandon Voth, “But we seem to pick it up right at playoff time. Getting 12 hits was a good sign tonight; now we need to get some clutch hits.”

Scoreless through two innings, the Dukes (17-5, 6-1 CCVL) struck first in the top of the third. Capitalizing on a pair of Bear errors, Carson Jones scored on a double by Nate Van Roekel, and Van Roekel came around on a single by Steve Loos. Dundas nearly tacked on another run in the inning, but on Van Roekel’s double, Tyler Jones was thrown out at home on a precision throw by Bears’ left fielder Cory Hedeen.

After blowing a bases-loaded opportunity in the first inning, Cannon Falls didn’t let their chance slip by in the bottom of the third, tying the game at 2-2. Nate Otto brought in Meyers with an opposite-field hit, and Voth evened the score with a sacrifice fly, scoring Luke Winchell.

Loos came up big for Dundas again in the fifth, belting a two-out, two-run home run over the left-field fence to put the Dukes back up, 4-2. Loos went 3-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored.

“I didn’t get as loose as I usually do, and it took a while to get into the groove,” Meyers said, “and I left the ball up for Loos.”

With time running out, Cannon Falls put together another two-run rally in the seventh to tie the game, getting consecutive two-out RBI singles by Taylor Pagel and Josh Harrison to score Otto and Chris Nobach.

“We answered back right away both times; it’s always good to see that,” Meyers said. “For as little of runs as we’ve scored lately, we could have just folded, but we didn’t.”

Trying to keep Dundas off the board for good, Voth came up with a pair of key defensive plays to keep the Bears’ comeback try alive. Voth came up with a sliding catch to end the eighth inning, then with two outs in the ninth, the Dukes’ Tyler Jones snuck the ball past the right side of the infield. With Charlie Ruud bolting towards home, Voth threw a dart to home, and Pagel came up with the tag to end the inning and eliminate the immediate threat.

“I was thinking before the play that if the ball gets to me, I have to get a one-hopper to home,” said Voth, who also went 1-for-3 at the plate. “That’s exactly what ended up happening. The ball took a higher hop than I hoped, but Taylor made a great play on it.”

In the top of the extra frame, Van Roekel led off with a walk, and with two outs, Ludwig snuck a ball past the right side of the infield. In an almost identical play as the ninth-inning out, Voth made the throw to home. But this time, the ball didn’t make it quick enough as Van Roekel scored, putting the Dukes up 5-4.

“It was the same thing; I just shorted it,” Voth said. “The grass killed the ball in the outfield and that made it a tough out.”

Trying to force another extra inning, Hedeen got a two-out single in the bottom of the 10th. But Dundas relief pitcher Jamie Soyk coaxed Jamie Stay into a groundout to clinch the victory.

“Starting out as well as we did, then losing four straight, it’s like watching a .300 career hitter start out hot and hit .500. Eventually, it’ll come back down.” Meyers said. “We’ll be fine, though. We’re only in June.”

Winchell was 3-for-5 with a run scored, and Otto added two hits, a run and an RBI in the Bears’ loss. Meyers struck out 10 and went nine innings in the no-decision.

On Friday, Cannon Falls looks to get back in the win column with a non-league game against St. Benedict at John Burch Park.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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