Friday, July 30, 2010

Mighty Casey on the mound, leads Bobcats to victory

Minutes before the Burnsville Bobcats began its game with its nemesis - the Savage Outlaws - manager Robby Wiens was asked about his pitching plan for the game considering his staff was a bit short-handed and the playoffs are coming soon.

“We got Casey [Jacobson] going again today, he threw really well and beat [Savage] last time, so we’ll see what he has today,” said Wiens of his Bobcats starter, Casey Jacobson.

After throwing 7-plus innings in a 3-2 Bobcats win over Savage last Thursday, the Bobcats ace pitched all nine in another dramatic 3-2 win over his team’s arch rival last night at Burnsville's Alimagnet Park.

Jacobson held an outstanding Outlaws offense to two runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batsmen.

“I give Chad [Eul] a lot of credit for the pitch calling,” said Jacobson, quick to deflect any individual praise to his catcher, Chad Eul, as well as his teammates on defense. “Chad was making a lot of good calls, keeping [Savage] off-balance, [and] I got really good defense tonight, which is always a key for me because I don’t normally strike a lot of guys out.”

Besides calling a good game, Eul also pegged out a couple Savage runners at second and came up with a big hit for Burnsville.

With the Bobcats trailing 2-0, Brandon Walczak relieved Savage starter Travis Pugliese on the mound to begin the seventh inning. After retiring John Loeffler on a grounder to first, Eul came to the plate and delivered a double to left-center.

The hit seemed to spark the Burnsville offense after Pugliese had shutout the Bobcats and held them to four hits with no walks through six innings.

Walczak was able to strike out the next batter, leftfielder Luke Hellquist, on three pitches, but Cory Eul (Chad’s brother) followed with a chopper to third that led to an errant throw and allowed Chad to score Burnsville’s first run.

In the eighth, the Bobcats began another rally as lead-off hitter Scott Lindner’s jersey was brushed by a pitch from new Savage reliever Danny Hanson. Next up was Matt Trocke, who laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to get Lindner into scoring position.

With the tying run at second, Burnsville’s Charlie Dubanoski stepped up to the plate.

The Bobcats dugout cheered on their third baseman as Hanson delivered a 1-1 pitch. Dubanoski then thrilled his teammates and the home crowd as he belted the pitch deep to right field that looked like a possible homer but fell in front of the fence for an RBI-double.

Hanson would evade allowing Dubanoski to score the go-ahead run by getting Chad Eul to hit a harmless fly to right for the third out, but Dubanoski's deep drive to the warning track was damaging nonetheless.

“Should hit the weight room a bit more,” deadpanned Dubanoski as he returned to the dugout.

In the top of the ninth, Jacobson threw an efficient eight-pitch inning and his Bobcat teammates returned to the bench determined to get him a complete game victory.

The third Savage pitcher in three innings, Ryan Rodeck was on the rubber for the Outlaws to start the ninth inning.
The righthander retired his first batter, Hellquist, on a grounder to third, but the next couple Burnsville batters were a bit more troublesome.

Rodeck walked Corey Eul on a full-count pitch that missed low, then he lost the following batter, Erik Fabry, on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt.

With two runners on and no outs, Rodeck rebounded by getting Bobcats’ lead-off batter, Lindner, to bounce a chopper back to the mound. Rodeck threw to second to get the first out, however, the speedy Lindner was able to beat Savage shortstop Tyler Peterson’s relay throw to first to prevent the double play.

Burnsville’s Trocke was next for Rodeck and the at-bat would be quite a battle.

Drawing the count full, Trocke fought off two Rodeck offerings to stay alive, then, on the eighth pitch, the Bobcats shortstop pounded a grounder to the left that found the hole and allowed Lindner to cross home for the game-winning run.

“That was key for us,” said winning pitcher Jacobson of Trocke’s hit. “We came out last night [versus Rosemount] and didn’t perform as well, [but] we came out tonight with a lot of fire and had a very good game. And to see someone (Trocke) who comes to the yard every day and plays hard and works his butt off help us get the W, that was great.”

Trocke’s single sewed up both a Bobcats win and a two-seed for the Cannon Valley League playoffs, which are to begin Sunday. Following its 9-6 home loss to Rosemount on Wednesday, Burnsville needed the win against Savage for the two-seed rather than the three.

While in some ways last night’s Bobcats / Outlaws game was not necessarily of as huge importance as it could have been, Savage manager Travis Peterson acknowledged the game’s significance for Burnsville’s playoff situation.
If Burnsville had defeated Rosemount as well as Savage, they would have stolen the No. 1 seed (which gets a bye through the first round of the CVL playoffs) from Savage. They weren't able to do that, but the Bobcats win did net them the 2-seed, which means they’ll play the winless seven-seed Inver Grove Heights Diamond Kings instead of the Lakeville Athletics (who defeated Eagan Wednesday to finish 5-12 in CVL play).

Moreover, Savage skipper Peterson would have liked to have won the game because of the intense rivalry his Outlaws share with Burnsville.

“We wanted to win that one,” said Peterson, minutes after last night’s loss. “It’s a tough one to take, but I told the guys there’s no more moral victories now. We’ve got to get the win, especially in the playoffs ... The season could be over in two games and we don’t want that, we want to be playing for awhile.”

As the number one seed, Savage (13-4 CVL, 29-8 overall) earned a first round bye and will begin its league playoffs on August 8 when they’ll face the lowest seed of the four remaining teams. Peterson’s Outlaws are hoping to do well in their CVL post-season, then make another run at the State title. Last summer Savage played all the way to September 5, when they lost 4-1 to Hastings to finish fifth in the Class B state baseball tournament.

Wien’s Bobcats (12-5 CVL, 13-7 overall) will hope to have another chance at Savage in the CVL playoffs, but they will first begin its postseason against Inver Grove this Sunday at 4:30 on Alimagnet Park’s field 2.

Notable individual efforts:
Savage Outlaws
~ Travis Pugliese: 6 IP, 0 Rs, 4 Hs, 2 Ks, 0 BBs
~ Zach Harazin: 2-for-4, HR, R, RBI

Burnsville Bobcats:
~ Casey Jacobson: CG, 9 IP, 2 ERs, 8 Hs, 1 K, 2 BBs
~ Scott Lindner: 2-for-4, 2B, HBP, R, SB

** Note: I covered this game as a reporter, conducting interviews and also taking my own photos. The photos featured in this article are of - from top to bottom - Burnsville's Casey Jacobson, Savage's Travis Pugliese pitching to Burnsville's Luke Helquist, Jacobson pitching, and managers Robby Wiens (Burnsville) and Travis Peterson (Savage).

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