The Milaca baseball team fought hard under new head coach, Doug Patnode in the team’s season opener on April 15 at Zimmerman.
In the back and forth affair, the Thunder were just able to make enough plays to spoil Patnode’s debut at the helm for the Wolves, pulling out the 5-3 victory.
“We just couldn’t put it away at the end and ended up two runs short,” said Patnode.
Coming into the game featuring the two Granite Ridge foes, Milaca wasn’t sure what they would see on the mound with Ryan Droogsma toeing the rubber for the Wolves.
Droogsma proved to be up to the challenge of taking on Zimmerman, as the senior started the game with three shutout innings. His rival on the mound for the Thunder was able to match Droogsma’s strong start to the game as the contest was scoreless entering the bottom of the fourth inning.
One of Droogsma’s few mistakes in his time on the mound broke the scoreless tie as a triple, aided by an error brought the game to 1-0 in favor of Zimmerman.
Droogsma was able to get out of the bottom of the fourth as that proved to be his last inning of work with the senior going four innings, only allowing that single run.
Coming to bat trailing 1-0, Milaca found themselves with a golden opportunity for a big inning as its first three batters reach base via walk.
A wild pitch led to the Wolves tying the game with Milaca seeing a runner cut down at home plate on a close play.
Having the call go the other way was detrimental to the Wolves’ big inning said Patnode. “That hurt. We had a chance for a big inning and had we gotten that run at the plate and another out to work with, we might have been able to open it up to a three, four run lead which would have made a difference,” said Patnode.
Though seeing a runner cut down at the plate, the Wolves were able to add another run in the inning to grab the 2-1 advantage going into the bottom of the fifth inning.
With Zach Timmer taking over on the mound for Milaca, he was able to get the first out before a walk and a two-run blast by the Thunder saw Zimmerman once again climb in front, 3-2.
Trailing again, Milaca would again respond tying the game after an Anton Erickson RBI groundout to tie the game at three apiece.
Zimmerman was able to score two more runs off of Timmer in the bottom of the sixth before getting out of the inning bringing the Wolves to the plate in the top of the seventh.
Down to its final three outs, Milaca was not able to make a charge as it fell 5-3.
Though falling, Patnode was pleased by the effort shown by the Wolves. “Overall, it was pretty solid, they hung in there and battled but just came up a play or two short,” he said.
Cloquet 13, Milaca 4
Back in action the following night, Milaca wasn’t able to limit Cloquet offensively as the Lumberjacks were able to run away with the 13-4 victory over the Wolves in Milaca.
With the loss, the Wolves now sit at 0-2 on the young season.
Milaca returned to action April 20 as they prepared to battle the always tough, Pierz Pioneers on the diamond.