Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, August 31, 1998

LP Hornets are Ty Cobb Little Crow River League Champions

The Lester Prairie Hornets little league baseball team won the Ty Cobb Little Crow River League Championship defeating Plato II 7-4 in the semi-final game and New Germany 9-4 in the championship game July 29-Aug. 1.

Lester Prairie 7, Plato II 4

As expected, Lester Prairie, seeded second, played Plato II, seeded third, in the tournament semi-final playoff game on July 30 in Lester Prairie.

Even though Lester Prairie recorded two wins during the season over a good Plato II team, the Lester Prairie coaches were more concerned about this game than they were about playing the number one seed, New Germany.

Defeating a team three times in one season is very difficult to do, especially when both teams are evenly matched. As anticipated, this game was "nip and tuck" all the way to the final score: Lester Prairie 7, Plato 4.

Plato tried to run on Lester Prairie, but the boys made many spectacular plays by throwing and catching the ball, which is a skill not taken for granted at this level.

Catcher Nick Selchow had another solid game behind the plate, stuffing three baserunners attempting to score with some excellent throws from first baseman Mike Eckstein after a putout in the first inning.

Jonathan Gueningsman made an excellent throw from center field after a base hit in the second inning; and Drew Heiraas threw well from shortstop position in the third inning. All three plays halted potentially big innings for Plato II and limited them to only one run each in the first three innings.

Great team defensive highlights were Jerry Vaughn ending a Plato rally with a big catch in right field in the third inning with two outs and bases loaded; and Selchow throwing out a runner at third as Andy Birkholz put on a beautiful tag on a "bang, bang" play. The play was executed to perfection and Selchow held excellent position setting up at home and blocking the plate.

Heiraas also made a big catch in right field to further halt a Plato rally in the fifth inning.

Pitching was also good as Josh Kern threw a great first three innings with two strikeouts and three walks, and Gueningsman pitched the last three innings, striking out six and walking three.

Gueningsman also went 2-for-3, tallied one home run which scored two runs, and had one RBI. Eckstein was 3-for-3, racked up a single and a triple, two runs scored, two RBI.

Birkholz went 3-for-3, had a single and a triple, for two runs scored and one RBI. Heiraas, 2-for-3, scored one run and had a key base hit for two RBIs; and Evan Remer went 2-for-3, with a big third inning RBI single.

Lester Prairie 9, New Germany 4

In the championship game against New Germany on Aug. 1, the New Germany team was faced with the same unenviable task that Lester Prairie encountered in their semi-final game: facing a team they had beat twice in close games during the regular season. The championship game, played at Lester Prairie, proved to be as exciting as the regular season games.

Dave Kern, coach and coin flip artist who had won the first two coin flips in the Orono tournament, but hasn't won a flip since, continued his slump as New Germany won the flip and were home team for the game.

In the first inning, Lester Prairie struck first with a single by Vaughn and an RBI triple by Gueningsman, who was thrown out at home by an excellent New Germany relay.

In the bottom of the first, with New Germany up and bases loaded, Vaughn made a good catch in right field and got the ball in very quickly, preventing a runner from scoring. Josh Kern, starting pitcher, then bore down and struck out the next two hitters to shut down the New Germany rally.

Kern pitched the first three innings with three strikouts and only one walk.

With runners at first and second and no outs in the second inning, Brock Klobe came up with the key hit of the game, putting a perfect bunt hard down the third base line as a hustling Birholz slid safely into third base.

With bases loaded and no outs, Kern aced a key hit, a double, to bring in two runs. Remer, swinging a good bat, made contact again, putting the ball into play to bring in the third run of the inning.

New Germany answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the second inning, but a potential big inning ended as Gueningsman threw out a runner at home from his centerfield position to end the rally.

The rest of the game went by fairly quickly with intense anticipation that either team could erupt for a big inning. Great team defense and good pitching by both teams did not allow a big inning to develop, although New Germany did manage to get one more run in the third inning, making the score 3-2.

In the fifth inning, a key RBI by Remer provided an insurance run. Gueningsman came in to close the game, pitching the last three innings and recording two of his five strikouts in the last inning.

Other game highlights were Heiraas, 3-for-3, two singles, scoring one run; Kern, 2-for-2, a single and a double, two RBI, one run scored; and Remer with two RBI.

The team played hard and showed steady improvement throughout the season, learning many things about baseball and life. They learned to be good, competitive people on and off the field and, as described by coach Steve Klobe, they learned to be good "apostles."

All those associated with the summer baseball program worked hard to make it possible for the boys to share a rewarding, positive experience on the ball field this summer, and their efforts are much appreciated by the team.

The Lester Prairie Little League Baseball coordinator, Jerry Christenson, and the team coaches Dan Gueningsman, Dan Heiraas, Dave Kern, and Steve Klobe volunteered countless hours to make this exciting season possible. Also instrumental in the season's success were umpires Ryan Kern, Jake Kohler, and Joel Gueningsman.

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