Sunday, July 25, 2010

Eagan’s Busch makes quick work of Lakeville bats

For the second straight day a visiting team’s starting pitcher went the distance against the Lakeville Athletics. Burnsville’s Trevor O’Shaughnessy tossed a nine-hitter yesterday while today’s CG-starter, Eagan’s Mike Busch, fired a five-hitter.

Not only did Busch hurl a complete game, he did so in a quick and efficient manner.

“I just tried to throw strikes, let the defense help me out,” said Busch, who threw 10 or fewer pitches in six of his first eight innings, “I was able to have good control out there today and was hitting my spots well.”

The Bandits defeated Lakeville 7-2 as the Eagan righthander finished his day with 93 pitches, which is a bit deceiving considering his 20-pitch ninth inning featured 3 errors from his defense.

Lakeville players did swing the bat well at times, but struggled to hit Busch’s sinking fastball.

“His fastball is deceiving,” said Lakeville second baseman Jim Gaylord, “it’s coming in there (toward the plate) then dips down a bit just as you’re swinging.”

Gaylord grounded out twice and hit a third grounder that led to an errant throw. Overall, Busch induced 15 ground ball outs as well as four other grounders that could’ve been outs were it not for errors.

Jeff Farr started the game pitching for the Athletics and was off to a nice start, striking out three of the first six batters he faced. However, Eagan would slowly peck away at Lakeville’s lean righthander to tag him for 13 hits and 6 earned runs in seven innings of work.

Eagan’s Roy Larson scored the first run of the game after he singled to lead off the second inning, then stole second base to get into scoring position. The steal paid off as Bandits DH Dave Clements singled Larson home with two outs.

Lakeville tied the game in the third when an Eric Watts sacrifice bunt set up teammate Derek Jacobson, who delivered an RBI groundout to short.

Unfortunately for Lakeville, Eagan fought back immediately as another Larson lead-off single led to a scoring threat in the fourth. First baseman Ryan Sward followed Larson with a gap shot to right-center for an RBI double. Eagan’s Matt Johnson made it back-to-back doubles as he somehow managed to dig out a two-bagger on a soft liner between Lakeville’s center- and rightfielders.

The Johnson double was followed by a fourth consecutive Bandits hit - a single by Clements - but Farr was able to mitigate the damage from there, limiting the Bandits to the two runs and a manageable 3-1 deficit.

In the sixth, however, Eagan was able to get to Farr again.

For his third consecutive at-bat, the Bandits’ Larson led off an inning with a single. This time Eagan’s Sward followed up Larson by crushing the first pitch from Farr very high and deep to centerfield.

“I thought it was gone,” remarked Sward after the game, “I was thinking of getting into my [home run] trot, but it came up a bit short, felt good though, I hit it pretty well.”

Sward’s shot landed just shy of the 399-foot marker on the centerfield fence.

As the inning progressed, the Bandits would put up three runs to make the score 6-1. Overall, for the game, Larson, Eagan’s clean-up hitter, was 5-for-5 with 5 singles, a stolen base and four runs scored. Sward finished 2-for-5 with 2 doubles, an RBI and two runs scored.

“Those guys have been pretty steady for us in our 4- and 5-hole,” said Eagan manager Billy Denet regarding Larson and Sward, “they’ve been staples for us and we’re looking for them to keep doing it in the playoffs.”

Due to three errors by Eagan’s back-up third baseman, Lakeville was able to push home one base runner in the ninth. But, with two outs and the bases loaded, Busch was able to finish his masterpiece by getting Lakeville leftfielder John Degerness to swing-and-miss for strike three to end the game.

“We played lousy,” said Lakeville manager Doug Johnson. “We’ve got to play better than that if were going to win some games in the playoffs.”

“Their pitcher was terrific today,” added Johnson in regards to Busch, “really nice placement with his pitches.”

Both managers have the CVL playoffs on their minds but will also have some final preparation games in their last week of league play.

Johnson’s Athletics, now 4-12 in the CVL and 8-15 overall, will face Denet’s Bandits again for their final league game of the season this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Eagan (8-7 CVL, 12-13 overall) will face Lakeville on its home field at Goat Hill Park, then conclude its league schedule with a 6:00 Thursday night game at Inver Grove Heights.

The Cannon Valley League playoffs will begin next Sunday, August 1st, at Burnsville’s Alimagnet Park.

Notable individual efforts:
Eagan Bandits
~ Mike Busch - CG, 9 IP, 0 ERs (2 Rs), 5 Hs, 2 Ks, 1 BB
~ Roy Larson - 5-for-5, 5 1Bs, 4 Rs, SB
~ Ryan Sward - 2-for-5, 2 2Bs, 2 Rs, RBI

Lakeville Athletics
~ Eric Watts - 1-for-2, 1B, Sac Bunt
~ Mark Berger - 2-for-4, 2 1Bs

**Note: I was PA for this game, thus the absence of game photos. However, I did conduct some brief post-game interviews and shot pictures of three of the game's best players (Mike Busch, Ryan Sward and Eric Watts).

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