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Baseball: Lake City stays alive in 1AA-East

Lake City's John Brown slides into third after a wild pitch during the first inning of Saturday's Section 1AA-East second-round game against La Crescent in St. Charles. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

ST. CHARLES, Minn. — Lake City’s Saturday was defined by big innings. Both for and against the Tigers.

Fourth-seeded Lake City is still alive in the Section 1AA-East tournament after going 1-1 on Saturday in St. Charles. Facing top-seeded La Crescent in Saturday’s opener, the Tigers saw a 5-1 lead evaporate thanks to a six-run bottom of the fifth as the Lancers pulled away, 12-5. Later in the day, Lake City stayed alive, thanks to a five-run fourth inning to beat Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the elimination game.

“A big thing in that second game was we started hitting the ball and started finding the gaps,” said Tigers’ head coach Perry Iberg after his team had 10 hits against PEM, compared to just three against La Crescent.

On Monday, Lake City will play the loser of La Crescent and Dover-Eyota in another elimination game at 5:30 p.m. in St. Charles.

Lake City 9, PEM 2

Springing out to a 4-0 lead after three innings, Lake City put the Bulldogs away for good in the fourth as Jarrett Thomas hit a two-run double, followed later in the inning with a two-RBI triple by Luke Hartzell. Thomas and Hartzell each went 2-for-3 with three RBI in the elimination-game victory.

Trevor Gnotke also came up big at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI, and Reid Lundell chipped in with a pair of hits.

Getting the win on the mound was John Brown, who struck out four in four innings of work.

“We played pretty well,” Iberg said. “I would say the biggest thing is we made plays defensively out there.”

La Crescent 12, Lake City 5

As La Crescent starting pitcher Levi Massmen struggled to find the strike zone, Lake City sat back and watched the Lancers sweat.

Already capitalizing on a pair of walks and two hit batters, including a bases-loaded beanball on Gnotke that scored John Brown, Hartzell crushed a two-run double that got Massmen pulled from the game after just one out.

“I was expecting first-pitch fastball because the guy went out to talk to his pitcher and I thought they probably want to throw strikes,” Hartzell said. “I was expecting it, so I got on it and hit it down the line.”

Lake City tacked on one more run in the first on a groundout by Alex Scharpen that scored Gnotke. But after eight Tigers went to bat in the first inning, offense was hard to come by the rest of the way as relief pitcher Connor Nelson sat down Lake City in order over the next three innings.

But, the Tigers looked like they would hold off the top seed, thanks to a solo home run by Elliot Cox that put Lake City ahead 5-2 and reinvigorated the bench.

But in the bottom half of the fifth, the Lancers’ bats finally did some damage. La Crescent made it a 5-4 game after a sacrifice fly by Matt Wieser and an RBI single by Nelson. Then with one swing of the aluminum, Kaleb Kaiser drilled a pitch off of Lundell over the left-field fence to put his team up 7-5.

And if that wasn’t enough to shift the momentum, the next batter, Massmen, atoned for his struggles on the mound with a solo homer, putting the Lancers ahead 8-5. La Crescent then went on to score four more runs in the sixth.

“(Lundell) was hitting his spots, he was throwing well. Then they got the barrel on the bat,” said Hartzell, who played catcher against La Crescent. “They can hit the ball very well.”

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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