State Tournament Run

Knocked out of tournament by Sobieski, 2-1

                After all of that, the Cardinals had little time to rest, two and a half hours to be exact, as they had to play a second game this Sunday. But to the victor goes a ticket to the State Championship game versus the Plato Bluejays who had already won to earn their spot.

                For all the action and non-stop drama that occurred in the New Market game, this one was played relatively quickly, concisely and free of a lot of excitement.  That was thanks to both starting pitchers putting up gutty and dominating outings.

Dirty from head to toe, Isaac Hormann was handed the ball again to start the second game and he pitched a dandy.  Jendro, like New Market’s Rost, just finished a complete game win earlier in the day and jumped back up on the hill for the Ski’s.

Sobieski would use small ball to score the first run of the game in the second inning.  Its started with a lead off single.  After a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch, Ski’s Joey Hanowski would score on a seeing eye ground ball up the middle.

Sobieski took the 1-0 lead into the sixth inning when Young America was able to muster up a run, on an RBI single from Dillon Whittaker to tie it up.   After the game, YA manager Adam Kostecka confessed “it seemed like it took everything in us just to get that one run”, speaking to the utter lack of energy left in the tanks after the fourteen-inning game earlier.
                The Ski’s again used some small ball in the top of the eighth to score the go ahead and eventual game winning run.  After a wild pitch moving the base runner to third, Sobieski put the old squeeze play on and executed it to perfection, putting the Cardinals in what felt like an insurmountable hole, with a 2-1 advantage.   And so it was, as the Cardinals went down meekly in their half of the eighth and ninth innings. 

Tyler Jendro did to YA what he had already done to many other teams before, ending their season, leaving the Cardinals jaws hanging as he strode off the mound, finishing out a day of eighteen innings of very well pitched baseball to put his team in the State Championship game.

YA tops New Market in 14 innings

                To say Brice Panning was on fire at this point in the tournament would be an understatement, and in the win versus New Market he proved it with some rare feats.  It took fourteen innings, besting another top end State Tourney pitcher and two, yes two, walk off RBI singles to beat the New Market Muskies, 4-3 in game one on Sunday.

                Young America grabbed an early 1-0 lead in familiar style.  Leadoff double by Isaac Hormann, moved to third by Panning, RBI groundout by Matt Mann.  

                New Market clean-up batter Nate Rost wasted no time tying the game up in the top of the second, with a no-doubter solo home run to left.

                Each team would a score single runs in a few of the preceding innings and we headed into the ninth, tied at three.  By this time, YA starter Dillon Whittaker had pitched a gem, working in and out of trouble but limiting heavy damage.  New Market, after allowing YA to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth, had put in their ace, Nate Rost, who was cruising through the YA lineup (side note that Rost had just pitched a nine-inning complete game the day before in their win over Maple Lake). 

                The two teams would battle and work their way in and out of jams during the next few extra innings, with too much drama to be properly explained in a small-town newspaper.  So, we’ll skip right to the really big stuff.

                In the twelfth, YA found themselves starting a potential game ending rally when Cole Peters led off the inning with a walk.  He was bunted to second base by Hormann, bringing up Mr. En Fuego, Brice Panning.  And Panning did deliver, a single to the right center gap plated Peters and the celebration was on, hog piling Panning in the middle of the field.  But wait, the home plate umpire, ever so ardent at his job, held up his fist and called Peters out at home.  It turns out, Peters failed to touch home plate in the excitement of the moment and the hearts of all Cardinal Nation sunk.  Fans in the stands that were clever enough to watch along with the ump knew it to be true, so we were back to having a tied game.

                New Market would mount a rally in the top of the fourteenth inning, but inexplicably ran themselves out of it with poor base running, setting up more dramatics for an exhausted Cardinal team in the bottom of the inning.

                DH Barrett Panning led the inning off with a walk.  After two outs, Hormann singled moving him to second.    With his brother at second base, Brice Panning played the part of the hero once more, driving another single to the outfield, plating his brother who was very sure to step on home plate, finally ending a physically and emotionally draining marathon of a game.  I find it hard to believe there was another time anyone had, in effect, two walk off base hits in a single game.

                Green Isle draftee Alex Twenge pitched three strong innings of relief.  Hormann pitched the final two innings flawlessly to earn the win.
                Brice Panning tied a tournament record with six hits in one game, only done two other times, by a player in 1946 and another in 2013.   The Cardinals themselves now hold a dubious record of their own.  With twenty runners left on base, they hold the second spot in the books, only bested by Howard Lake in 2013 with twenty-one.

                The win earns them a matchup with 2014 State Champs, the Sobieski Ski’s and the MVP from that year, Tyler Jendro.  The Ski’s had been ranked as the #1 Class C team in Minnesota all year long and still undefeated going into the final four of the State Tourney.

Cardinals come from behind to beat Raymond 

                The 2018 Young America squad dipped their toes into uncharted waters Saturday, heading into the final weekend of the State Tournament for the first time in team history.   Awaiting them was 2016 Champ Raymond Rockets, who came out with a big punch in the first inning.  The Cardinals would respond in kind and come out victorious in the end.

                The Rockets delivered a big upper-cut punch right out of the gate, using 2 walks and a Cardinal error to plate three runs, which sent Cardinal Nation into a stunned daze.  It was coming true that maybe the Cardinals were a bit over their head here.

                However, YA responded in the third to let their fans and Raymond Rockets know, they were here and they were ready to fight back.   The momentum turning response from YA sent the Rockets seeing stars, just as their rally in the first did to YA.    It got going with the bottom of the order when Hunter Rickaby and Cole Peters reach based consecutively to start the inning.  Isaac Hormann looped a single to left loading the bases.  Brice Panning slapped a ground ball past the first baseman and down the right field line, scoring the first two Cardinal runs. After loading the bases again, Roch Whittaker would ground out to deep short stop, plating the third run of the inning, tying the game at three each.

                Josh Lenz was again handed the ball for Young America and this game went about the same as his first two State Tourney wins this year.  Much like the Rocky boxing movies, he would struggle early, fight through some adversity to keep things close, but keeping his best for last and getting stronger as the game went on. In this one, Lenz absorbed that three-run blow in the first, but seemed to gain an edge when his team tied it up in the third.

                But Raymond was not done delivering punches, as they grabbed the lead back in their home half of the third inning.  Rocket clean up hitter Jordan Smith collected his second RBI of the game with another single plating their leadoff batter, Mike Jeseritz.

                YA’s next response was quick, as Panning continued swinging a big stick, driving home the tying run with a single, his third RBI of the game.  The hit knocked out Raymond’s starting pitcher as they decided it was time to stop fooling around with this young group of unknowns from Young America, so they put their ace into the game, Alex Lothammer.  Lothammer, through the last four State Tourneys, was carrying a 7-1 record.  And so, the game turned into a pitcher’s duel.

                During the next four innings, Lenz and Lothammer sparred back and forth, striking out nearly all of their opponents and both looking like they were in total control, waiting for that one spot where the other would let down their guard and drop their gloves for a bit.  Lothammer was the first to do so.

                In the eighth, it was Lenz at the plate, drawing a walk.  Then promptly swiping second base, taking advantage of Lothammer’s lefthanded kick, going on first movement and nabbing the bag with ease.   Some juking around on second base in the preceding pitches drew the attention of Lothammer, forcing a pick-off attempt and bad throw.  With the throw going past the covering short stop, Lenz scampered to third and the centerfielder unwisely threw to try to get him out. The throw sailed out of play and Lenz was able to strut home, throwing up his hands and pumping up the crowd as he crossed with the go ahead run.  Que the Rocky music.

                Lenz was relived from the game with two outs in the ninth, seemingly having spent all his energy, able to dig for no more.  YA put Green Isle draftee Alex Twenge in the game to do what they drafted him to do, getting a strikeout with two runners on to lock down the save and the win.

                Panning, the early hero, finished with three hits and two RBi’s.  Isaac Hormann contributed three hits and Cole Peters two runs as well.  On the mound, Lenz earned his third victory of the tournament, striking out fifteen Rockets.   The win puts YA into the Great Eight of the tourney, now having to face New Market, who earned the matchup being Maple Lake 9-0.

 

Cardinals top Jordan in second round of State

                When asked what was the turning point in the game last Saturday, starting pitcher Josh Lenz commented “it was when our manager got tossed”.   And so it was.  The Cardinals offense scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning after a tumultuous bottom of the fifth in the field that saw Jordan rally to tie the game using some highly questionable calls by the umpire which lead to Cardinal manager Adam Kostecka being ejected from the game.  YA went on to win the game 5-1.

                But before all that, it was a dead heat between these two  teams.  Young America was able to jump on the board right away in the first.  Isaac Hormann was the table setter, leading the game off with a double.  He was moved to third by Brice Panning and promptly scored on a groundout off the bat of Matt Mann.   Cardinals lead 1-0.

                Although it took some effort and wasn’t the prettiest, Lenz was able to maneuver through his first four innings of work and Jordan starting pitcher Mitch Bockenstedt matched him. Then came the aforementioned bottom of the fifth, when most of the game’s action happened.

                  Jordan’s lead-off batter reached first after a swing-and-miss at strike three, the pitch being in the dirt caromed a bit too far away from catcher Hunter Rickaby to get the throw out.  The next batter bunted, and it came hard back to the pitcher, Lenz.  Instead of going to first for the traditional out, Lenz fired to second for the lead runner. His throw was a bit off target and the umpire saw fit to call him safe, with a gesture telling the crowd the covering short stop pulled his foot. This drew the ire of the players and Cardinal contingency alike.  After a walk and loading the bases with nobody out, Lenz got an improbable strike out of leading Brewer hitter Joe Lucas, maybe the biggest out of the game.  However, the next batter lofted a fly ball deep to center which scored the tying run.  On the play, the throw home was cut off and thrown to third to get the runner from second trying to advance, he too was called safe which drew a greater response from the Cardinals players and their legions of fans.  Manager Kostecka then stepped between the umpire and his players, in an attempt to keep them from getting ejected and found himself taking the long walk out of the park instead.   Lenz got the final out of the inning, leaving the game tied at one a piece and the troops came off the field fired up to hit in the top of the sixth.

                Panning and Mann lead off the inning with singles, and then another from Roch Whittaker plating the go ahead run.  Kyle Horstmann followed with another clutch playoff single, driving in the second run of the inning. That hit knocked Bockenstedt out of the game, but his relief could do no better, allowing another RBI single by Rickaby.  Cole Peters kept his big year going with a sharp RBI single of his own, plating the fourth and final run of the inning, giving the Cardinals a 5-1 lead.

                Lenz, seemly still fueled by the manager ejection, looked energized on the mound, doing away with any Brewer bat that dared step in the box the rest of the way, retiring fourteen of the last fifteen batters he faced.   The southpaw allowed only three hits all game, with one being rather meaningless in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Lenz flexed his dominance late and ended with thirteen strikeouts to go with the complete game victory.

                It was another total team effort offensively for the Cardinals. Hormann was the lone Cardinal with more than one hit, but there was only one batter in the lineup that was held hitless on the night.

 

Cardinals take first game at State

                The Young America Cardinals came away with a very decisive win Friday night in the opening game of the MN Amateur State Tournament in Shakopee.   YA beat the Foley Lumberjacks 5-2 and now have a second round date with the Jordan Brewers.

                YA got on the board right away in the first inning.  Matt Mann doubled down the third base line with two outs.  Roch Whittaker promptly followed with a single between third and short that scored Mann.

                YA got another run in the third inning to take a two run lead.  They would get two more in the fourth to take a four run lead, using some mishandled balls by the Foley defense to move runners up.  They would eventually score on back-to-back two out singles by Hormann and Kyle Horstmann.  

                Cardinal starting pitcher Josh Lenz carried a shutout thru the first four innings but was laboring at times.  Foley finally broke thru in the fifth with a run on two hits.  The Lumberjacks would threaten again in the sixth but went down easy in the seventh, completing a fine evening on the hill for Lenz.  He earned the win giving up one run on seven hits with five strikeouts.

                Matt Mann hit a home run in the seventh to cap a great state tournament opener for him, going three for four with two doubles in addition to the homer, scoring twice.

                Draftee from Green Isle, Alex Twenge, was summoned to get a two inning save.  There were some tense moments in the eighth.  After getting the lead batter, a hit and two walks loaded the bases. Then a bases loaded walk scored the second run for Foley.  After YA coach Adam Kostecka had a quick mound visit chat with Twenge, he struck out the next two to end the inning.  A quick ninth locked down the win for YA.   

 

REGION ROUNDUP

YA Cardinals Headed to State Tournament         

                Last weekend, the Cardinals punched their ticket to state with a 5-3 win over the Waconia Lakers and a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Brownton Bruins.   This past weekend, they battled for seeding and came away with the second seed in Region 7C.  They will now play the Foley Lumberjacks, the third seed out of Region 11C.   That is currently what we know at the time of printing, but it appears there could have been a typo and Young America may play Luxemberg instead. Either way, the Cardinals will take on whoever their opponent ends up being Friday night, August 17th at 7:30 at Joe Schleper Stadium in Shakopee.  State tournament games for class C teams will be played in Shakopee and New Prague this year.  More info for this years state tournament can be found at  http://www.mnbaseball.org/.

               

5-3 win over Waconia, Aug 4

                Young America erupted for five runs in the second inning and the pitching of Josh Lenz and Brice Panning made it stick.   Lenz pitched seven innings, allowing three runs but only one earned.  Panning pitched a flawless two final innings for the save.

                Panning was an integral reason for the win, not only doing it with his arm but also with his bat, not to mention a fine diving play in center mid game to thwart a Laker rally.  YA’s five run second was started with an RBI single from Dillon Whittaker and followed up by two run singles from Panning and Matt Mann.

 

2-1 win over Brownton, Aug 5.

                Bryant Nordby has for years been Brownton’s reliable back stop and deadly assassin behind the dish.  However, he took the mound in an effort to send the Bruins to another state tournament birth against the Cardinals on Sunday evening. 

                Nordby keep the Cardinals guessing all game, pitching deep into the final innings.  A run scored by Brownton in the fourth inning would hold as the only scoring in the game until the bottom of the eighth.

                In the eighth, with YA on the ropes, the Cardinals capitalized on a walk and some Brownton misplays to score two and take a one run lead.  The big play here was a hard come-backer to the pitcher off the bat of Roch Whittaker.  It was collected by the pitcher but fired over the first baseman’s head and down the right field line to score the tying run.  Then, Kyle Horstmann hit a clutch two out single to score the go ahead.

                Hayden Meyer collected the save, recording a strikeout for the final out and send YA home with the win.  Dillon Whittaker pitched a fine eight innings for the Cardinals, not allowing the Bruins to start many scoring opportunities.

                The two wins over the weekend gave YA a birth into their second consecutive state tournament, assuring them no less than a three seed in region 7C.

10-0 loss to Plato, Aug 11

                In the first game of the second weekend, Plato asserted their dominance as the top seed in the regions and stomped YA with a mercy rule 10-0 win.   Plato jumped out to a six run lead in the first inning and never gave the Cardinals an inch of hope in this one.   Plato had one of the top pitchers in the league starting for them in Chris Odegaard, who went for the jugular and kept the Cardinals off the board all day, striking out eight.

 

13-3 win over Carver, Aug 11

                With the throttling that Plato gave them, YA earned a second game later in the day on the second Saturday of the tournament, which paired them against a depleted Carver Black Sox team that had just played and defeated the Waconia Lakers.  The win for Carver earned them a back to back game to play YA, again, mostly for seeding purposes.

                By all accounts, the Carver group had used all their arms in previous games on this second weekend in securing the wins needed to get them a second consecutive state tournament birth.  The Cardinals pounced and they must have wanted to exert some frustration from the Plato loss.  Young America hit early and often, including big contributions up and down the line up. Cole Peters and Dillon Whittaker were the catalysts, combining for seven hits and six RBI’s.  The win puts YA in their first ever Region Championship game and they would look to exact revenge on the Plato Blue Jays.

                Jordan Kohls was the starting pitcher and put together another nice outing for the win.

6-2 loss to Plato, Aug 12

                In the Region 7C Championship game, YA handed the ball to the guy they considered their ace last year, Isaac Hormann, and he had his good stuff.   Hormann when through the Plato line up with ease early, striking out nearly all opposing batters with a good mixture of high fastballs and sharp curve balls.  The constant checking of swings from Blue Jay batters was telling to all spectators how good Hormann’s stuff was on this day.  Hormann held Plato to no runs and only one hit through the first six innings.

                Young America scored runs in back to back innings in the fourth and fifth thanks to RBI hits from Hormann and Matt Mann, giving them a two run lead that at the time seemed well in hand.  

In the seventh inning, the thing that helped YA most this year, hurt Hormann in the end of this one.  Because of all the pitching depth, Hormann has not had to pitch as much this year, so his stamina seemed to give out on him late.  Plato took advantage of his fading accuracy with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.  Then a back breaking two-out, three run double from off the bat of Tyler Lang in the bottom of the eighth, his only hit of the game, put the Cardinal hopes of a Region Championship to rest.  Plato added another insurance run and Adam Prehn mowed down the YA bats with ease in the bottom of the ninth, to secure the complete game win and the one seed out of Region 7C for Plato.

 

Draftees

                YA was awarded the second pick in each of three rounds of drafting for additional pitching during the State Tournament.  With their first pick, YA selected Alex Twenge from Green Isle, who is expected to be in a relief/closer role for the Cardinals.  Ryan Grams from Brownton was the second pick.  He had an outstanding Region 7C Tournament for the Bruins tossing a complete game win over Carver in their first game.  Casey Clemenson from Cologne was the third pick.  Clemenson is normally more of a roaving infielder for the Hollanders, but pitched some strong, big-time innings for them down the stretch.

Player of the year (Jul 16/14)

Eileen Braun

Young America's biggest fan, Eileen's memory will always be present at Wilkommen Park

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