A throwback night at the ballpark left the Litchfield Blues wanting more, as they lost a tight 4-2 road contest to Dassel-Cokato on Darwin Night.
The game was scoreless until the third inning, when the Saints busted open for a three-run inning.
“We had one little hiccup of an inning,” Blues manager John Anderson said, “and I wouldn't even say it was even that bad. It was just maybe one mental issue here and one physical error there and you're staring down a three-run inning.”
D-C added another run in the fifth inning, but Litchfield wouldn't go quietly. It added two runs on RBI singles from Brady Smith and Jake Jones in the sixth inning to cut the lead in half. The Blues would get a runner in scoring position again in the eighth and ninth innings, but that was as close as they would get to adding another run in the loss.
“The team never gave up,” Anderson said. “They had Stan (Ridgeway's) back the whole way. We fought back with a couple there in the sixth inning with some timely hitting, some two-out hitting, which is always fun to see. … Our goal is to put up four runs every game, and against good pitching in the North Star League that's sometimes difficult to do.”
Ridgeway through a complete game for the Blues, allowing just four hits and two earned runs while striking out 10 batters. Anderson, who celebrated his birthday at the game, hoped the Blues offense could provide some more run support for Stan and provide himself with a victory for a birthday present.
“Stan is a gamer,” Anderson said. “It wouldn't matter what was happening out there. If he walked 10 guys in a row or struck 10 guys out in a row, he's going to be fired up the entire time. I told him he was going to be on the bump this morning and he said 'Yeah, I wouldn't have it any other way.' To hold a team to four hits, you're going to take that every day of the week.”
The loss dropped Litchfield to 4-13 in North Star League play and, with three regular season games to play, secured its spot in the Region 12C play-in tournament.
“That's where we've landed the last few years, and I feel a lot more confident with what we're bringing in, and I know we can beat any team. Honestly, if you put us against any of the bottom eight teams, I feel we have not only a puncher's chance but a very good chance. If they play their best baseball, we could find our way playing some really good teams in the region tournament.”
Anderson said he is planning on playing a few more of his younger players more down the stretch as he looks for the best lineup for the postseason. One of those players is Drew Kotzer, who started in the outfield after playing a doubleheader for the VFW team earlier in the day.
“You don't normally want to have to play with a lineup this late in the year, but it seems like something that I've had to do lately,” Anderson said. “I think the rest of the year, what we're going to end up seeing is a lot of youth, especially in the corner outfield. … We're in a position where there's no pressure on us, and we can give guys opportunities where maybe in a tight race they might not get the looks.”
Dassel-Cokato Saints 4, Litchfield Blues 2 (July 10)
Litch ... 000 002 000 - 2
D-C .... 003 010 00x - 4
Batting - A. Loch 0-3; M. Spreiter 1-3, R, BB; C. Klabunde 0-4; B. Smith 1-4, R, RBI; J. Jones 1-4, RBI; J. Hyde 1-3, BB; A. Kaping 0-3; G. Lecher 0-1; E. Kaping 1-3; D. Kotzer 0-2; Totals - 5-30, 2R, 2RBI, 2BB, 6K
2B - Spreiter
Pitching - S. Ridgeway (L) 8IP-4H-4R-2ER-5BB-10K