Baseball: Pine Island Lien's into Section 1AA title game

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Pinch-runner Connor McKenzie of Pine Island scores a run in the fourth inning against Lake City on Saturday at the 1AA baseball tournament held at Hudson Field in Rochester. The Panthers won 2-1 to advance to the championship final on Tuesday.

The Pine Island baseball team lost more games than it won in 2015, but Matt Lien saw the promise.

Now, Lien sees a trip to the state tournament within his team's grasp.

Lien had his hands all over Pine Island's 10-inning 2-1 win over Lake City on Saturday at Hudson Field in Rochester in the winner's backet of the Section 1AA final four tournament.

"I thought we had a lot of talent coming back," Lien said. "Everyone was excited for the season. It's been such a good time."

Lien pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and also scored the winning run in the top of the 10th, scampering home from third base on an infield single by Brady Braaten that deflected off the pitcher's glove and dropped in behind the mound.


"It was a great feeling, running out there and celebrating with the team," said Lien, who plans to try and walk on the baseball team at South Dakota State University next year.

Lien and relief pitcher Drew Lohmeyer combined to tame a Lake City team that had won three straight and was averaging 5.3 runs per game. Lohmeyer, a junior right-hander, retired L.C.'s last six batters in order in the ninth and 10th for the win, improving to 5-1.

"Lien was up to 120 pitches and he did everything we asked of him," Pine Island coach Craig Anderson said of his pitching tandem. "Lohmeyer has come in and mixed up speeds and thrown strikes. He did a good job of that again."

Lake City took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on a walk by sophomore Nate Baer, a passed ball, and a run-scoring Texas-league bloop double to short center by sophomore Marc Kjos.

Pine Island tied it in the top of the fourth with a lead-off double by Lien, and his pinch-runner Connor McKenzie scored later on a fielder's choice ground-out by Braaten, who had both of the Panthers' RBIs.

Both teams squandered scoring opportunities in the later innings. P.I. left runners at second and third in both the sixth and seventh, and in the ninth, pinch-runner Keegan Majerus was thrown out at home for the third out. Lake City right-fielder Alex Scharpen scooped up a single by P.I.'s No. 9 hitter Derek Fall and threw a one-hop strike to catcher Ryan Hanson, who dropped the tag down on Majerus trying to score from second base.

"That (Scharpen) just made a great throw, a really great play," Anderson said with a shrug.

Lake City loaded the bases in the sixth, with Lien hitting one batter to load them. But an infield ground-out ended the Tigers' best chance for a big inning. L.C. also stranded a runner at third in the seventh. It would be L.C.'s last base runner. After that, Lien and Lohmeyer retired the last 12 batters in order.


Pine Island (17-7) edged Lake City (12-11) in a one-run game for the second time this season. In early April, the Panthers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 4-3 win.

"Lake City is a fine team, and we're evenly matched," Anderson said. "We could have played for three days and never finished."

Pine Island won its fourth straight playoff game, and third straight by a single run. The Panthers edged Zumbrota-Mazeppa 4-3, and then downed Cannon Falls 2-1 in the 1AA West subsection semis and final. P.I.'s first-round win was 2-0 over Triton, so none of them has come easily.

"I don't know if anyone of our fans has any finger nails left, but I sure am a proud coach," Anderson added. "These kids got a lot of experience in Legion, and they were champions in Babe Ruth ball, so we knew these guys could win."

Pine Island is within one more win of the state tournament for the first time in over 20 years. Anderson, who is retiring after 41 seasons as a high school baseball coach this year, guided P.I. to three straight Section 1A crowns in 1991, '92 and '93.


Winners bracket

Pine Island 2, Lake City 1


Pine Island#000#100#000#1#—#2#12#0

Lake City#001#000#000#0#—#1#4#0

Pine Island: Derek Fall 2-for-4, 1 SB; Matthew Huus 1-for-4; Braden Aakre 1-for-5; Bryce Hinrichsen 1-for-4; Drew Lohmeyer 0-for-5; Derek Rucker 1-for-3; Aaron Gillard 2-for-5 1 SB; Matthew Lien 2-for-5, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 SB; Brady Braaten 2-for-5, 2 RBI, 1 SB. Pitchers:Matt Lien 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K; Drew Lohmeyer (W, 5-1) 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.

Lake City: Josh Brown 1-for-4; Trent Meyer 0-for-4; Drew Bailey 1-for-4; Alex Scharpen 1-for-4; Nate Baer 0-for-3; Marc Kjos 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI; Jarett Thomas 0-for-3; Josh Matanich 0-for-3; Thomas Lewis 0-for-4. Pitchers:Thomas Lewis (L, 5-4) 10 IP, 12 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.

Chatfield KO's D-E to stay alive

Chatfield got some timely hits and knocked out Dover-Eyota 5-3 on Saturday morning at John Adams Field to stay alive in the Section 1AA baseball tournament.

Riley Ahern doubled and scored on a fielder's choice in the fourth inning for what amounted to the game-winning run, and winning pitcher Braden Brehmer closed strong in a complete game.

Chatfield (13-9) beat Dover-Eyota (8-16) for the third time in three meetings this season and eliminated the upstart Eagles from the double-eliminated tournament. D-E, under coach Brad Wick, was the No. 6 seed in the West subsection but made a nice playoff run.


Chatfield won for the ninth time in its last 11 games.

"It's been an amazing ride," said Chatfield coach Brian Baum. "We're not a flashy team, but we can hit a little bit and pitch a little bit. We have pitchers who throw strikes, we're making plays when we need to, and we find a way get a key hit when we need it."

Nick Maki delivered one in the first inning with a two-run single. That followed an RBI single by Carter Duxbury in the first. Ahern added an RBI single in the fifth for an insurance run. Duxbury and Ahern had two hits each in Chatfield's 8-hit attack.

Dover-Eyota scored twice in the first inning, with one run on an error. The Eagles had a runner thrown out at third base for the third out.

Brehmer also surrendered an unearned run in the fifth inning to D-E, which cut the Gophers' lead to 4-3. The junior right-hander went the distance with five strikeouts and two walks. He improved to 4-2.

"He didn't have his best stuff, but he's a pretty gritty kid," Baum said. "When he pitches, he usually goes the whole way."

Brady Sveen also pitched a complete game for D-E with three strikeouts and three walks. Garrett Studer, Isaac Bushman and Izaak Juenemann had two hits each for the Eagles, who made it this far despite averaging just 2.3 runs per game this season.



Losers bracket

Chatfield 5, Dover-Eyota 3



Dover-Eyota: Garrett Studer 2-for-4 2 R; Isaac Bushman 2-for-4; Dakota Schafer 0-for-3, 1 R; Luke Franke 1-for-3; Izaak Juenemann 2-for-3; Jayden Lueth 1-for-3. Pitchers:Brady Sveen (L, 3-4) 7 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

Chatfield: Aaron Paulson 1-for-3 1 R; Carter Duxbury 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 SB; Nick Maki 1-for-3 2 RBI; Riley Ahern 2-for-3, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 SB; Tristin Aguiar 0-for-3 1 R. Pitchers:Braden Brehmer (W, 4-2) 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

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