CHERRY- The North Woods baseball team had the higher seed, but Cook County had the upper hand in Tuesday’s opening round game of the Section 7A tournament, bouncing the Grizzlies out of the …
CHERRY- The North Woods baseball team had the higher seed, but Cook County had the upper hand in Tuesday’s opening round game of the Section 7A tournament, bouncing the Grizzlies out of the competition with an 8-2 win.
In most postseason tourneys the seventh-seeded Grizzlies would have enjoyed home field advantage over the tenth-seeded Vikings, but to facilitate a same-day second-round game for the winner against Cherry, the game was played on the Tigers’ home field instead.
Vikings’ hurler Kole Anderson was a commanding early presence on the mound, striking out five of the first six Grizzlies batters, as Cook County carried a 1-0 lead into the top of the third. Anderson came to the plate with runners on first and second and slammed a Louie Panichi pitch over the center field wall for a three-run homer, stretching the lead to 4-0.
North Woods tried to strike back in the bottom of the third, with Trajen Barto and Cedar Holman rapping infield shots that were too hot for the Vikings to handle and Panichi drawing a walk to load the bases, but Talen Jarshaw hit a popper to short left field that was caught by the shortstop to end the threat.
Cook County capitalized on a Grizzlies error to add two more runs in the top of the fourth, leaving North Woods staring at a 6-0 deficit.
North Woods finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Levi Chaulkin connected on a bases-loaded single to bring home Ben Kruse from third. Alex Burckhardt tried to steal home on a passed ball but was thrown out at the plate.
The Grizzlies stranded two more runners in the fifth, and Kruse replaced Panichi on the mound in the sixth. The Vikings tagged Kruse for a deep outfield hit that scored a runner all the way from first after a pair of North Woods throwing errors. Another single to center brought home the second Cook County run of the inning, staking the Vikings to an 8-1 lead.
Anderson retired the Grizzlies in order in the bottom of the sixth, and Kruse struck out the side in the top of the seventh, as North Woods had one last gasp to stave off elimination. Holman stroked a single up the middle, but was out on a force play that left Jarshaw at first. After stealing second on a passed ball, Jarshaw came around to score on a double by Kruse. Burkhardt drew a walk and Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases one more time, but Nick Pierce went down on strikes to end the game and the Grizzlies’ season.
The Grizzlies had hoped to use the momentum from wins over Deer River and Nashwauk-Keewatin in their final two regular season games to fuel a run in the tourney, but instead ended the winter-shortened season with a record of 5-8.
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