By Bruce Karnick [email protected] Youth sports are kicking into high gear for the summer and teams are already vying for state tournament spots. The past weekend, HYAA held the first of two …
By Bruce Karnick
Youth sports are kicking into high gear for the summer and teams are already vying for state tournament spots. The past weekend, HYAA held the first of two qualifying tournaments, this one for the 14-year-old team. The 14AAA team faced teams from Chanhassen, Armstrong Cooper, Blaine, Chaska, and Woodbury in 90+ degree weather all weekend long. Tournament rules are simple. Pool play games have a 1:45 time limit where no new innings start after that time is reached, there are pitch counts in place, there is a ten run ‘mercy rule’ after five complete innings, everyone bats and home team is determined by coin flip.
Tournaments need to guarantee teams a certain number of games, usually three, for them to participate. HYAA has a few major advantages over many youth organizations in the area, an amazing facility to play at, Veterans Park, and the support of the Hastings Hawks, the adult amateur team in town. The Hawks provide an amazing atmosphere for baseball with announcing and music and have been working on the playing surface at Vets for nearly a decade to make it the best field in town and a premier field in the region. The coaches and teams that work their way through the levels at HYAA all work hand in hand with the Hawks to keep Vets in pristine shape. Together, they work with the many parent volunteers to properly prep and maintain the field. This co-operation is key for the field to stay healthy all season, especially when the field sees 80-100 games a year in normal years.
The Hastings team consists of Jon Harris, Matt Sherry, Brody Carlson, Charlie Rud, Levi Kruse, Jack Bezdicheck, Wes Baldwin, Cole Karnick, Drew Greiner, Chuck Wagner, Hunter Hoff, Jack Cloutier and Head Coach Nick Sherry. Friday night, the Raiders defeated Armstrong Cooper 4-3. They had a chance to go 2-0 in pool play when they let a 13-2 lead slip away, losing 14-13 to Chaska. Chaska had been struggling to drive in base runners most of the game but held the advantage of being the “home team”. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Chaska closed the gap to keep the game going, scoring five. The sixth inning started within the time limit; however, it was close enough to the 1:45 that it ended up being the last inning. Chaska completed the impressive come-from-behind victory in the bottom of the sixth, edging the Raiders 14-3 By the end of pool play, Blaine was 2-0, Chanhassen 0-2, while Chaska, Hastings, Woodbury and Armstrong Cooper all sat 1-1.
Bracket play had Chaska as the four seed versus Hastings as the five seed. Hastings won 14-4 to move on and face the one seed Blaine on Sunday morning.
Woodbury earned the third seed and they faced Chanhassen, the sixth seed. Chanhassen earned their first victory of the tournament defeating the Royals 5-1. That win moved them on to take on the two seed, Armstrong Cooper Sunday morning.
Sunday’s games began with a thrilling come from behind victory by the Raiders. (5) Hastings defeated (1) Blaine 7-5. (6) Chanhassen dismantled (2) Armstrong Cooper 5-0 for their second straight win of the tournament making the championship game a battle of the lowest seeds.
“In a small tournament, anything can happen,” Tournament Director Ryan Stoffel said. “That why we decided to try this format, we wanted to guarantee every team had a chance to make it out of pool play to win their state bids.”
Hastings lost the coin toss and once again had to be the visiting team on their home field. After the first inning, it was clear the coin toss did not matter, both teams were out of true pitchers at this point in the tournament. The best way to describe the situation; They were using guys that CAN pitch, but their strength is elsewhere in the field. Chanhassen jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first, then added two more in the second. by the time the fourth inning had arrived, it was 10-0 Chanhassen and both teams were showing how the heat of the weekend simply drained them. They were tired, but they refused to give up on both sides of the field.
Unfortunately for Hastings, they were unable to score a run in the first five innings and Chanhassen cruised to a 10-0, three game winning streak to earn the title of tournament champion. Congrats to the Storm!
This weekend, HYAA hosts another state qualifying tournament, this time for the 15AAA level of baseball. Due to one of the registered teams dropping out last minute, Hastings will have two teams in this tournament, the 15AAA team and the 14/15A team. The 14/15A guys volunteered to jump in the spot to keep the tournament full and to gain some high-quality experiences for the players. In the MBL, AAA is the highest designation for skill levels, however, our 14/15A team is quite talented and they could give the 15AAA guys a run for their money. Regardless, it will make for a fun weekend with a friendly rivalry between the two Hastings teams with players that have known each other through years of being in the program.
Cole Karnick logged a quality start for the Raiders in the first game of Sunday morning’s bracketed play, helping the fifth seeded Raiders earn the 7-5 win over the first seed Blaine. Photo by Bruce Karnick