Town Ball team has won nine of 13 in last month
The Forest Lake Brewers hope a come-from-behind 9-8 victory over the Plymouth Hitdawgs at Schumacher Field on Thursday, July 8, will serve as a metaphor for the rest of the team’s season.
The Brewers, Forest Lake’s Town Ball team, saw Plymouth score three runs in the sixth and seventh innings to dig an 8-3 hole. But Forest Lake scored four runs in the eighth, then a pair of runs in the ninth to secure the come-from-behind walk-off win.
“I’m happy that everybody didn’t give up,” Brewers manager Adam Gallatin said. “Everyone in the dugout was battling and playing hard.”
The Brewers’ early deficit against Plymouth mimicked the start of this season, when Forest Lake lost seven of its first eight games. Gallatin said part of the reason for those early season struggles was the team’s difficult schedule.
“We play Class A teams that are perennial state tournament teams,” he explained. “And while we may have lost those games, they were close games. Sometimes we were leading in those games and kicked the ball late.
“There were times we struggled on defense, and we were giving away runs — and games — with our defense.”
The Brewers have a 9-4 record since June 4, and Gallatin said the big reason for his team’s turnaround is the pitching staff. Forest Lake has surrendered three runs or less in all but three of those contests.
“Jackson Schneider has been fantastic,” Gallatin said. “He pitched against Chanhassen, which has won three straight state titles and has only one loss this season, and he absolutely diced them up.
“Cam Klein came back from college and has become one of the best pitchers in our league, and that obviously has helped. And Mike Swenson has been phenomenal as well. He hasn’t walked a guy all season, and he’s been awesome.”
Klein also has played a key role in the offense since returning from Minnesota-Mankato. He played a key role in the win over Plymouth, drawing a bases-loaded walk-off walk to win the contest.
“A few weeks back we put Brandon Rogers at the top of the order, and he’s been a .400 hitter since that point,” Gallatin said. “And when Jackie Faesta-Fosten gets on base, he can turn a single into a double because he’s the fastest person in our league. And Sean Graff has been pretty consistent.”
The Brewers entered the Fourth of July holiday on a winning note, posting a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Centennial at home on Tuesday, June 29.
Forest Lake took an early lead with single runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, only to watch Centennial mount a three-run rally in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead. The Cougars added an unearned run in the eighth, but Forest Lake got that run back in the bottom of that frame before scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth to claim the win.
Kline had a big day at the plate for the Brewers, going 4-for-5 with three doubles that produced one RBI and one run scored. Jed Hanson had three hits, including a double, and Mike Schultz and Austin Bergum both had a pair of hits as part of Forest Lake’s 13-hit attack.
Swenson allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings, striking out two batters, while Schneider claimed the victory by allowing just one unearned run while fanning six over the final 2.1 innings.
Forest Lake extended its current win streak to three straight with a 4-2 victory over East Grand Forks on Saturday, July 10. Offensively Faesta-Fosten, Rogers, Bergum and Noah Brown each had two hits, with Bergum clubbing a pair of doubles.
Luke Wallner got the win with six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while fanning seven before Bergum and Schneider closed out the victory.
The Brewers returned to Metro Minny League action against Anoka on Monday, July 12, then hosted Blaine two nights later in a pair of games that were not completed at press time. Forest Lake’s next scheduled game is at Blaine on Monday, July 19.
The Brewers began the week tied with Coon Rapids for fourth in the Metro Minny thanks to a 5-4 league record, just one game behind third-place Anoka.
“Even when guys are throwing well, if we boot the ball, we’re going to give up some runs,” Gallatin said. “If we shore up our defense, though, I think we’ll be tough to beat.”