The Crookston Pirate Baseball team led 7-6 and gave up six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning at the Thief River Falls Prowlers came from behind for a 12-9 victory in the first round of the Section 8AA Baseball Tournament played in Thief River Falls.
Crookston didn’t have a great start as the first three batters all struck out for a quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first inning.
Thief River Falls had a great start to the inning, while taking advantage of fielding miscues by the Pirates. After a leadoff ground out, Thief River Falls scored two runs when Morgan Rude singled, Gannon Kempert reached on a Pirate error, Zach Westlund singled and Cody Wienen singled and the Prowlers led 2-0.
Crookston had an answer in the top of the second inning when Ashton Larson and Cade DeLeon had back-to-back singles. Carter Bruggeman had a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Cade Coauette walked to load the bases and George Widman drew a walk to score a run. DeLeon scored on a wild pitch and the Pirates tied the game at 2-2. “That was a great answer,” said Pirate Coach Mitch Bakken. “We had some nice hits, Carter had a nice bunt, and we had some great walks. There were a lot of great at-bats in the inning.”
Thief River Falls answered with a run in the bottom of the second inning to regain a one run (3-2) lead.
Crookston answered in the top of the third inning when Jacob Miller and Ethan Boll singled. Ashton Larson reached on an error on the pitcher and a Miller scored on the same play to tie the game at 3-3. After a strikeout, Bruggeman grounded out, but another run scored to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead. “The middle of the order did a great job today,” said Coach Bakken. “They had great at-bats for us all game long, but especially in the third inning.”
Thief River Falls tied the game with a run in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Colin Bruggeman singled, stole second base and scored on an error to tie the game at 4-4.
Neither team scored in the fifth inning, but things were a lot different in the sixth inning. Crookston’s Austin Trinkle singled with one out to get things started. Widman was hit by a pitch. Trinkle advanced to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error on the same play. Gunner Gunderson walked and Jacob Miller singled to score Widman for a 6-4 lead. Gunderson scored on an error and the Pirates led 7-4. It looked like Crookston was going to score some more runs with runners at second and third with one out, but the next two batters struck out and Crookston still led 7-4.
Thief River Falls had the first six batters reach safely in the bottom of the sixth inning. A single, walk, error, two rbi single, singled, and a bases-loaded hit batter was how the first six batters reached. One run scored on a wild pitch, another run scored on a ground out, and another run scored on a sacrifice fly and the Prowlers led 12-7. “That was a tough inning,” said Coach Bakken. “They hit the ball well and there wasn’t much we could do. Give Thief River Falls credit, they flat-out hit the ball.”
Crookston didn’t go down without a fight as Carter Bruggeman struck out, but reached on a wild pitch. Coauette singled and two runs scored on a ground out and a sacrifice fly to bring the Pirates within a 12-9 deficit with two outs. The next Pirate batter lined out to the centerfielder and Thief River Falls held on for a 12-9 victory. “The guys didn’t give up and played hard and that was great to see,” said Coach Bakken. “We made some mistakes in the field with some errors and misjudged the ball a few times, but overall we played a solid game. We had some great at-bats, some nice plays, and decent pitching. We knew it was going to be a good game and it was. I am proud of how the guys ended the season. They were playing hard and left it out there today.”
Crookston ends the season with a 9-10 record and says goodbye to three seniors – Jacob Miller, Carter Bruggeman, and Cade Coauette. Coach Bakken also announced he will not be coming back next year after 15 years of coaching softball at UMC and baseball at Crookston High School. With a young son, he said it was time for somebody else to take over the program that he played for in the mid-’90s. “The kids are great and I think it is time for somebody else to come in and run the program,” said Coach Bakken. “It has been a good run, but I want to spend a little more time with my son and my wife and will still help out in any way the program needs. I might even ump because we are short on them in the area too. Who knows.”
Thief River Falls improves to 9-9 on the year and will play #1 seed Warroad on Thursday, June 3 at 2:30 p.m. in Park Rapids.
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Jacob Miller – 2 for 4, run, rbi
Ethan Boll – 2 for 4, run
Ashton Larson – 2 for 4, run
For Thief River Falls
Gannon Kempert – 4 for 5, 3 runs
Morgan Rude – 3 for 4, 2 runs