It started on the diamonds of Sand Creek Park and ended playing in primetime in front of a worldwide audience.
In between there was another state title, an improbable late comeback to win the Midwest Regional championship and a dramatic first round win, as the Coon Rapids/Andover Little League team capped an unforgettable season finishing in the top six of the U.S. bracket, and top 12 in the world overall, at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
After its opener was postponed a day, Coon Rapids/Andover was more than ready for its Little League World Series opener.
Squaring off against Team Kentucky out of Bowling Green, Coon Rapids/Andover pounced in the second inning.
Dylan Bloom led off the frame with a walk, then sprinted home just ahead of the tag at the plate on an RBI triple by Tyler Phillips. Phillips then dashed home on a wild pitch for the team’s second run.
It proved to be all the offense the team needed.
Bowling Green scratched across an unearned run in the third to cut the gap to 2-1, but had its best chance to draw even thwarted on a diving catch by Jaxon Knutson to end the fifth inning, stranding two baserunners.
Jameson Kuznia started and threw 4 2/3 innings and Carson Timm secured the final four outs to combine on a two-hitter.
Coon Rapids/Andover ultimately ran out of steam in its final two games, falling 11-0 against Team Virginia in the second round Aug. 18 and 10-0 against Team Louisiana in an elimination game as part of the final six in the U.S. bracket Aug. 19.
Freking becomes part of history
Maddy Freking became the first girl to take part in the Little League World Series since 2014, as well as just the 19th ever and the sixth to pitch. The last girl to play in the LLWS from Minnesota was Olympic hockey star Krissy Wendell.
In addition to her play in the field, Freking also took the mound in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second inning of the second round and worked through unscathed, recording a strikeout looking and then pouncing on a grounder and flipping to the plate for the force out at home.
Getting to Williamsport
Coon Rapids/Andover reached Williamsport via yet another Minnesota state title, then by rallying from a 5-1 deficit in the final two innings of the Midwest Regional finals to stun Team Iowa and arrive at the pinnacle of Little League play in Williamsport.
After tying the game at 5-5 in the sixth, Kuznia crushed a two-out, three-run homer to give Coon Rapids/Andover an 8-5 lead. The team then held on after Iowa plated a run and loaded the bases to close out an 8-6 region final victory.
Coon Rapids/Andover was coached by Greg Bloom, Scott Buettner and Jason Law.
Team members included Wyatt Myers, Jaxon Knutson, Logan Nistler, Cayden Alphin, Carson Timm, Dylan Bloom, Lukas Squier, Maddy Freking, Tyler Phillips, Jack Brandl, Cameron Sakry, Drew Law, Brett Buettner and Jameson Kuznia.