Mistakes cost A's a victory
With three top-end pitchers and a young yet experienced lineup, the Rochester A's Legion baseball team hopes to contend for a district title later this summer.
But if the A's are going to race past the First District field, they can't beat themselves. And that's exactly what they did Friday during the opening round of the annual Firecracker 92 Legion tournament at Century High School.
The A's went to the top of the seventh inning tied at 1-all against Ham Lake, which is made up of players from Blaine High School. But an error on a pickoff move to first base with two outs ended up costing the A's a run and the game as Ham Lake escaped with a 2-1 victory.
Erik Thorvilson tossed a fantastic game for the A's, but he was the hard-luck loser.
"As well as Erik pitched, in that situation, with two outs in the seventh inning (of a tie game), you have to go after the hitter, not the guy at first," A's manager Jordan Kangas said. "It's tough because Erik has a great pickoff move. He threw a great game; he threw well enough to get the win."
Thorvilson's final line was outstanding. He tossed all seven innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits, while striking out eight and walking one.
The A's had just one other error, but it did not cost them a run.
"We made a lot of little mistakes (that don't show up as errors), mistakes we made last year," Kangas said. "Those are mistakes we've eliminated 85 percent of the time now. Overall, we played really well. We just didn't get the clutch hits."
The A's had several opportunities to deliver those clutch hits, but too often they left their bats on their shoulders in key spots.
"We called every pitch they threw, so there's no excuse to be striking out looking with the bases loaded," Kangas said. "We're still a young team. These are mistakes I'm glad we're making now. We'll learn from it."
The A's led briefly after scoring a run in the fourth inning. Red-hot Nick Smith smacked a single and scored later on a double by No. 9 hitter John Bickle. Ham Lake came right back and tied it in the fifth.
The A's had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, putting two runners on base without a hit and just one out. But Ham Lake starter Zach Rustad, a left-hander who mixed his pitches well, got two consecutive outs to close out the game.
Rustad was sharp, tossing all seven for the win. He struck out seven.
No A's player had more than one hit. Smith, Bickle, Pat Bower, Nick Pearson and Brandon Knapp all had one hit apiece for the A's.
Late in the week, the A's saw their schedule and pool altered for the Firecracker 92 tournament. Two teams dropped out of the tournament because they didn't have enough players. Minneapolis Post 540 was supposed to be in the A's pool, but it pulled out of the tournament.
That leaves Madison Impact and Ham Lake in the pool with the A's. To make pool play even, Pool C (the A's) will cross over and play Pool D, which also lost a team, during the final three rounds.
The A's will now play Madison Impact at 9:30 a.m. today, then Excelsior from Pool D at 2:30 p.m.
Ham Lake 2, A's 1
Ham Lake:Tyler Reichenborn 3-for-3, 2 R, 3B; Chay Willis 3-for-4, 2 RBI. WP: Zach Rustad 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 K, 4 BB.
Rochester A's:John Bickle 2B, RBI; Nick Smith 1B, R. LP: Erik Thorvilson 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 88 K, 1 BB.