Wildcats lose big lead, but not composure

Eagan survives against Rosemount in nine innings

Eagan had five one-run losses in its first 11 baseball games, and the last thing the Wildcats needed was another blow to their confidence.

But when Rosemount scored six runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday afternoon to tie their game, fans probably couldn’t help but wonder how Eagan would respond – or if it would respond.

Instead of coming back to the dugout deflated, the players “were determined,” Eagan coach Rob Walsh said. “They weren’t happy about giving up the lead, but they wanted to get the job done. We went out 1-2-3 in the eighth, but hit two balls really well. Then Jordy (relief pitcher Jordan Brandt) went out there and got us back in the dugout.”

The Wildcats finally pushed across a run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly. Brandt closed the door in the bottom of the inning and Eagan survived 7-6. Eagan is 5-7 overall but 5-4 in the South Suburban Conference.

Walsh said managing to pull out a victory after losing a big lead might actually help the Wildcats long-term. “What we need is consistency,” he said. “We swing the bats well, we catch the ball most of the time and our pitching is coming around. When we do those things for seven innings, the kids have seen they’re a pretty competitive team.”

Junior pitcher Collin Olstad, who started the season as a reliever, held Rosemount hitless for the first 6 1/3 innings of Monday’s game before the Irish (2-10 overall, 1-8 South Suburban) made their rally.

Olstad didn’t strike out a hitter. “A lot of their hitters were really aggressive,” Walsh said. “The ball was in play on the second or third pitch. I think Collin was making them hit pitches they didn’t necessarily want to hit.”

Olstad also had a couple of hits in Monday’s game. Cole Peterson, Kevin Kunik, Danny Alvarez and Josh Loew also have swung the bats well for the Wildcats, Walsh said.

Captains David Stevens and Eric Peterson “might not be swinging the bats as well as they would like, but they’re still giving us good at-bats,” Walsh said.

The Wildcats, who played Lakeville South on Wednesday and Burnsville on Thursday, open next week’s play at home against Prior Lake at 4:15 p.m. Monday.

Eastview

The Lightning remained one game behind Burnsville in the South Suburban after losing to Lakeville North 6-5 on Monday. Lakeville South defeated Burnsville 9-8 in another Monday afternoon game, handing the defending state champion Blaze its first loss of the season.

Eastview built a 5-0 lead in the third inning behind starting pitcher Evan DeCovich, who also hit his third home run of the season. Lakeville North came back with five runs in the fifth inning, with the key hit being Austin Streit’s grand slam.

Lakeville North’s victory brought the Panthers into a second-place tie with Eastview in the SSC at 7-2. Burnsville was 8-1 in the league after its loss to Lakeville South.

DeCovich also was leading his team in batting average (.448) and RBI (14) going into Monday’s game. Outfielder/pitcher Chris Narum was batting .440.

Eastview goes on the road to play Lakeville South at 4:15 p.m. Monday.

Apple Valley

New bats mandated for high school play this year might have slowed offenses, but teams still can play the occasional slugfest. Apple Valley improved to 4-6 overall with its 16-14 victory over Prior Lake on Monday.

Logan Kohorst went 3-for-5 with three RBI for the Eagles. Tate Erickson had two doubles and three RBI, and Garrett Ganskie was 3-for-4 and scored four runs.

The Eagles, who played Eastview on Wednesday and Bloomington Kennedy on Thursday, have their annual wood bat tournament this weekend at Legion Park. Apple Valley plays at 7 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

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