Blizzard finishes fourth at state tourney
The Park Rapids Blizzard 13-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team capped off a successful season by placing fourth at the nine-team state tournament at Avon on July 26-29.
Park Rapids opened the double-elimination state tournament with a 6-5 win over Albany before falling to Aitkin 7-4. The Blizzard stayed alive with wins over Barnesville (15-5) and Perham (8-2) before being eliminated with a 10-0 loss to Melrose. Fergus Falls defeated Aitkin 5-2 in the state championship game. Sauk Centre and Roseau were the other teams who qualified for this state tournament.
The Blizzard advanced to the state tournament as the runner-up in the Timberline League tournament. The Park Rapids Babe Ruth team, which was coached by Craig Brand and Jay Eystad, ended the season with a 22-11 record.
Blizzard finishes fourth at state
Cole Hoscheid scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Blizzard topped Albany in the tournament opener.
Albany scored three times in the first before the Blizzard tied the game by scoring three times in the third on Chase Brand's bunt single, a double by Justin Dravis, a single by Ben Garcelon, a fly ball by Tim Walsh and an error.
Albany took a 4-3 lead in the sixth before singles by Kenny David and Walsh gave the Blizzard a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the inning.
After Albany tied the game in the seventh, the Blizzard won it in the bottom of that inning.
David, Walsh and Cole Rossman had two hits each to lead the Blizzard's 10-hit attack. New York Mills draftee Skylar Mursa started that game.
The Blizzard was held to only five hits in the loss to Aitkin.
New York Mills draftee Nick Hendrickx walked and scored in the first, Sam Eystad and Hendrickx scored in the second, and Brand doubled and scored on Eystad's double in the seventh.
Eystad had two hits while Hendrickx was the starter.
A 15-hit attack sparked the Blizzard past Barnesville.
Singles by David, Justin Dravis and Garcelon sparked a three-run first inning while singles by Rossman, David and Brand and a double by Garcelon led to four more runs in the second.
Singles by Hoscheid and David and a double by Brand produced two more runs in the third while doubles by Dravis and Rossman and singles by Eystad and Hoscheid sparked a four-run fourth.
The Blizzard ended the game early via the 10-run rule when Eystad and Jake Dickinson scored in the sixth.
David and Dravis had three hits and scored three runs each while Rossman, Brand, Garcelon and Hoscheid had two hits each. Jackson Leckner was the starting pitcher in that win.
Garcelon pitched the Blizzard past Perham.
Walsh scored in the second, Brand scored in the third, Garcelon and Dickinson scored in the fourth, and David scored in the fifth as the Blizzard stayed alive.
Brand went 3 for 3 to pace Park Rapids' seven-hit attack.
The Blizzard saw its season end as Melrose held Park Rapids to only one hit. Hendrickx walked in the third and Hoscheid singled in the sixth to account for Park Rapids' only baserunners. Hendrickx started that game.
Perham tops Blizzard for title
After winning the Timberline League regular-season title, the Blizzard had to battle through the loser's bracket to earn a trip to the state tournament.
Park Rapids, the No. 1 seed, opened the Timberline League tournament July 17-20 at Staples with a 4-3 loss to No. 4 Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale.
BHV led 4-0 after three innings before the Blizzard rallied. Dravis doubled and scored on Walsh's double in the fourth, Rossman singled and scored on David's single in the fifth, and Rossman singled and scored on Brand's double in the seventh.
Rossman went 2 for 4 and scored twice while David went 2 for 3 to pace the Blizzard's seven-hit attack. Kyle Trumble started that game.
The Blizzard started its way through the loser's bracket by routing No. 6-seeded Staples-Motley 15-4.
Brand and Dravis scored in the first before singles by David and Dickinson and a double by Dravis sparked a five-run second. A double by David was the key hit during a six-run third before a double by Brand sparked a two-run fourth.
David went 2 for 3 with two runs while Brand and Dravis scored three runs each. The Blizzard took advantage of seven walks and four errors as Leckner earned the win.
Garcelon threw a three-hitter as the Blizzard eliminated No. 3-seeded New York Mills with an 11-1 victory.
After Jared Sunram and David scored in the third, a seven-run fourth inning put the Blizzard in control. Dickinson's double and single and singles by Brand, Dravis and Garcelon were the key hits in that inning.
Sunram's single and Garcelon's double helped produce the final three runs in the fifth.
Dickinson went 3 for 3, Garcelon went 2 for 4, Sunram scored three runs, and David, Brand and Dravis scored twice each to lead the offense. The Blizzard finished with nine hits in that victory.
Trumble gave up one hit and walked four as the Blizzard eliminated BHV 10-0 to advance to the title game.
Sunram, David, Brand and Dravis scored in the first; Rossman scored in the second; Brand, Dravis, Garcelon and Eystad scored in the third; and Dickinson scored in the fourth to lead the offense.
Brand and Eystad had two hits each to lead the Blizzard's seven-hit attack.
Perham, the No. 2 seed, claimed the title with a 6-3 victory as the Blizzard managed only four hits.
David scored on Dravis' single in the first, Dravis walked and scored in the third, and David reached on an error and scored on Brand's double in the seventh to account for the Blizzards' runs.
Brand went 2 for 4 while Eystad took the loss.
Brand leads Blizzard offense
A key to the Blizzard's success this season was having a .367 team batting average, which led to an average of eight runs a game.
Brand led the way with a .627 average (37 for 59) with 42 runs and 27 walks. Also batting above .300 were Dravis at .420 (29 for 69 with 32 runs), David at .395 (30 for 76 with 33 runs), Trumble at .386 (17 for 44 with 11 runs), Walsh at .382 (21 for 55 with 18 runs), Garcelon at .379 (22 for 58 with 24 runs), Hoscheid at .368 (14 for 38 with 18 runs) and Eystad at .365 (23 for 63 with 16 runs).
Kaleb Carlson hit .286 (8 for 28), Dickinson hit .273 (15 for 55 with 21 runs), Rossman batted .270 (20 for 74 with 26 runs), Sunram hit .267 (8 for 30 with 16 runs) and Leckner batted .154 (4 for 26 with 11 runs).