Coming into the regular season finale for the Tigers baseball team, Princeton was able to split a pair of games with Big Lake, winning 6-1 and falling 8-0 on May 28 as the squad now shifts its attention to the postseason tournament.
In the first game of the double header with the Hornets, youth led the way for Princeton as Mason Beltrand and Ryan Krone’s good days on the field helped the Tigers to the win. “I was joking with the team that the sophomores led the way for us. It was a good overall performance, really nice contributions from the whole crew,” said Princeton Head Coach Jordan Neubauer.
Beltrand started on the mound for Princeton, with the Hornets getting to the young pitcher for a run in the opening frame.
In the bottom of the inning, Beltrand then stepped up to the plate with a chance to help his own cause, driving in a pair with a triple to push the Tigers back in front 2-1 after the first inning of play.
Beltrand would have a bounce back second inning, allowing no runs once again bringing the Tigers to the plate.
This time, Krone would come through as the lefty would come up big with a solo home run to extend Princeton’s lead to 3-1.
From there, Beltrand would take over on the mound as he would shut the Hornets’ bats down, finishing his day with three more shutout innings, while adding five strikeouts.
Next would be Krone’s time to shine again, with the sophomore stepping in in relief of Beltrand. Krone allowed one hit, but struck out three batters in his inning of work to one again quiet Big Lake’s offense.
Still clinging to the 3-1 lead, the bottom of the sixth saw Princeton add to its lead, scoring three runs with Ryan Brown picking up the big hit in the inning after a blooping double that scored two runs for the Tigers.
Leading by five runs, Daniel Minks would shut the door on the victory, with a scoreless bottom of the seventh as Princeton would claim the first game.
Back for the second half of the doubleheader, Princeton struggled to hang with Big Lake, as errors led to the Hornets pulling out the one sided victory.
“It was a little bit ugly from the get go. It was one of those games that happens from time to time where nothing really seems to go right,” said Neubauer, as Princeton finished with seven errors in the game.
After a scoreless first inning for both teams, Big Lake took advantage on the Tigers’ miscues to plate four runs off of Princeton’ Kevin Rahe.
The Hornets would add another run in the third and three more in the fourth to pull out to the 8-0 lead and never looked back.
Rahe’s day on the mound finished allowing eight runs, with five being earned along with four strikeouts and two walks.
Cameron Jensen and Ryan Brown each pitched a shutout inning in the loss.
With the loss Princeton dropped to 11-8 and 7-7 in the Mississippi while Big Lake moved to 8-9 and 7-7.
Section play begins
With its 11-win regular season, Princeton wrapped up a home playoff game in the Section 7AAA Tournament as the fourth seed and hosted fifth-seeded Hermantown June 1 on Solheim Field.
Squaring off against the Hawks will present the Tigers with a team they aren’t familiar with. “We don’t know much about them, we haven’t played them, little bit of unknown going into it,” said Neubauer.
Though not knowing much about Hermantown, Neubauer knows what the team must do to give themselves a chance. “If we can play a game that’s solid defensively and on the mound, I think we will put ourselves in a spot to win,” he said.