Cannon Falls Baseball Ends COVID Season
The Cannon Falls Bombers baseball team missed three weeks of the season due to COVID. The Bombers season ended Thursday with a 2-1 loss to Belle Plaine in the Section 2AA title game in Gaylord.
After starting 1-10 Cannon Falls went 11-2 the rest of the way to take home a second place trophy. It was an amazing accomplishment that Head Coach Bucky Lindow said on Milo Peterson Ford Coaches Show last week, "Clearly the credit totally goes to the players for working their tails off to get better."
The Bombers had a plan to get to a do or die second game Thursday but came up a horse hair short of that accomplishment.
Senior lefthanded Riley Miller pitched his heart out and gave his team a 1-0 lead with a home run to right center field over the 330 foot sign in the top of the first inning. He struck out 10 while throwing 99 pitches, 68 strikes in 98 degree heat.
From the end of the first inning through the third inning Miller retired 8 straight with 6 strikeouts. Cannon Falls couldn't extend their lead despite some chances to do so. In the top of the second inning Loden Bell singled on a 1-0 count off Tigers ace junior Jackson Kruger.
Sophomore Jonathan Banks went to first base to courtesy run for the catcher with Marcu Banks stepping into the batter's box. Banks attempted to steal second and was gunned down by Belle Plaine catcher sophmore Jake Brandenburg.
In the top of the third inning Kruger allowed a 5 pitch walk to #9 hitter junior Will Johnson. With two outs Kruger committed an error on a Elliott Nelson dribbler to the first base side of the mound. Kruger slipped in the grass, tried to complete a throw from his back to first base.
Runners at first and second with two outs and Miller coming to the plate. He nearly hit a second home run down the right field line which would have been a three run shot. The ball drifted foul. Miller eventually struck out looking.
Belle Plaine scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior Luke Luskey jumped on the first pitch thrown by Miller for a double down the left field line. Cleanup hitter Brandenburg hit a ground ball to shortstop. Luskey took off for third base before the throw to first. He did get a pretty good jump which is probably why the shortstop elected to get the sure out at first base but Brandenburg was then a sacrifice fly or wild pitch away from tying the game.
Kruger hit a ground ball to short. The contact play was on so Brandenburg raced home to score before the throw to the plate. Senior Cade Morrison stroked a single to right field attacking the first pitch he saw. The inning ended in a strike out, throw out with Kruger 's courtesy runner attempting to gain third base.
In the top of the 5th inning sophomore Ari Wells executed a 0-1 single. Sophomore Gavin Peterson went in to pinch run and get Wells out of the heat. Bombers third baseman junior Jonny Monson laid down a bunt to move Peterson into scoring position. Johnson hit the ball to second advancing Peterson to third base so it was a productive out but Cannon Falls could not get the timely hit they needed to go ahead.
The eventual winning run scored by Belle Plaine came in the 5th inning. After Miller recorded his 9th strikeout senior Keaton Nordby, the #9 batter in the order was walked on the 7th pitch of his at bat. The Tigers got back to back infield dribblers for hits to load the bases.
Luskey singled to left field scoring Nordby. Brandenburg then hit a fly ball to left field that appeared to be to shallow to score the runner from third base, but he initially broke for the plate, then saw the on target throw from sophomore Ari Wells and scurried back to third base. Just as he got back to the bag senior Joey Burgemeister advanced to third and touched the bag at the same time for an out to end the inning.
Kruger finished the game with 92 pitches thrown, 60 strikes. He allowed 3 hits, struck out 8, walked 1 batter.
Cannon Falls left three runners on base, 2 in scoring position. Belle Plaine ended the game with 6 runners stranded, 4 in scoring position.
Each team had 1 error in the intense, entertaining high school baseball game.
There were four seniors on this years Cannon Falls team and they will be sorely missed. Coach Lindow has commented on the coaches show their leadership has been essential in navigating the COVID season experienced by the Bombers.
The four seniors included Riley Miller, heading to Wayne State in Nebraska to pitch. Marcus Banks, the outstanding athlete who played football and basketball at high levels and was a solid shortstop for the baseball team. Owen Edstrom was the quarterback on the undefeated football team last fall and Loden Bell also played football. Bell stopped many balls in the dirt from going to the backstop saving his pitchers wild pitches and not allowing some scores from the opposition.
Belle Plaine was ranked #10 in the final Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 2A poll and will represent Section 2 very well in St. Cloud next week.
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