Blaze’s Carlson shines, but Irish win

Three-run seventh-inning pushes Rosemount past Burnsville

Burnsville catcher Max Hanson tags out Rosemount's Ryan Lemke during Monday's South Suburban Conference baseball game. Rosemount won 4-2 after scoring three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy
Burnsville catcher Max Hanson tags out Rosemount’s Ryan Lemke during Monday’s South Suburban Conference baseball game. Rosemount won 4-2 after scoring three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

If you see people with cameras, notebooks and radar guns hanging around a local baseball field, chances are it’s because Sam Carlson is on the mound.

Carlson, the Burnsville High School senior who possesses a 90-mph-plus fastball and scholarship to the University of Florida, draws a crowd. Much of that crowd also expects the Blaze to win when he pitches.

On Monday afternoon, Rosemount had other ideas. The Irish stayed in the game against Carlson and the No. 2-ranked Blaze until they could break through with a three-run seventh inning to win 4-2. Rosemount improved to 3-2 overall, 2-2 in the South Suburban Conference, while Burnsville lost for the first time in three games.

The regular season was barely a week old, but a game such as Monday’s could prove important for Rosemount’s future. “We just love that no matter who we’re playing or what the other team has, our guys kept in the process, kept battling, even when we were down,” coach Chris Swansson said.

It looked to be an ace-vs.-ace matchup between Carlson and Rosemount starter Griffin Lanoue, an Xavier University recruit. Among the spectators with more than a passing interest were former Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan, now a special assignment scout for the Philadelphia Phillies; Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who will be Carlson’s coach starting next fall; and Twins vice president Mike Radcliff. They saw Carlson throw a low-90s fastball for five innings and 71 pitches. He no-hit Rosemount for the first four innings before departing with a 2-1 lead. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out six.

Lanoue pitched the first three innings, allowing two unearned runs on four hits, before finishing the game at second base. With the playoffs not starting until late May, both Swansson and Burnsville head coach Mick Scholl will bring along their pitchers slowly. “We’re trying to build (Lanoue) up for the end of the season and don’t want to stretch him out too much now,” Swansson said.

Senior catcher Ethan Engdahl had the first Rosemount hit, a double in the first inning. He scored on a single by Keenan Wenzel, cutting Burnsville’s lead to 2-1.

In the seventh, Engdahl’s two-run triple brought in Colin Pomeroy and Nick Magnusson, putting Rosemount up 3-2. Engdahl then scored on a squeeze by Ryan Lemke.

Rosemount pitchers Cole Kraemer and Aidan Maldonado held Burnsville scoreless over the final four innings.

Swansson said he liked the way his hitters were aggressive even while knowing it would be a challenge to put the ball in play. “We’d been a little passive at the plate in some of our previous games, but today I was happy with our at-bats. We had some long at bats and some good swings,” he said. “Our guys weren’t going to back down from (Carlson). It was fun watching them compete against him.”

In addition to his two hits and two RBI, Engdahl caught all three pitchers Rosemount used Monday. “The first one (Lanoue) and last one (Maldonado, who has verbally committed to Illinois) are going to be Division I pitchers,” said Engdahl, a four-year starter. “For me to catch them is a blast. They call what they want to throw, and if I disagree, we’ll still go with them.”

Seven different Burnsville players had one hit each. Sam Carman had a double and RBI for the Blaze. Freshman Max Carlson pitched the final two innings, breezing through the sixth before encountering trouble in the seventh.

As of Monday, all South Suburban Conference teams had played three or four games, and only Prior Lake was able to make it to Tuesday without a loss. There will be plenty of ebb and flow in a conference schedule that still has a month to run. “There are a lot of good players in this conference. Even a middle-of-the-road pitcher in our league is a pretty good pitcher,” Swansson said.

Monday’s victory “shows what we can do in the future, and especially the playoffs,” Engdahl said. “We understand the opponents are difficult. You’re going to make an out 70-75 percent of the time and you have to be comfortable with that. We try to compete against ourselves, make all the plays we can in the field and support our pitchers.”