Thursday, August 12, 2010

Trocke sets table, Dubanoski drives Burnsville to State

The Burnsville Bobcats offense was stymied through most last night’s Section 5B playoff game against Eagan’s Brandon Paetznick, except for its left side infielders that is.

“Trocke and Charlie, they were the only offense pretty much the whole game,” said Bobcats manager Robby Wiens, “they were the only ones hitting the ball, so you’ve got to be happy for them for doing that well.”

Shortstop Matt Trocke and third baseman Charlie Dubanoski’s offensive exploits led the Bobcats to a big 3-2 win over Paetznick’s Bandits at Frederickson Field in Elko and merits Burnsville (12-5 in league play, 17-8 overall) a trip to the Class B State Tournament next week.

Trocke set the table for Burnsville – getting on base with four
hits in four plate appearances – and Dubanoski drove in both the game-tying and game-winning runs with two big doubles.

The duo combined for six of Burnsville’s 10 hits on the night and backed outstanding relief pitching from Casey Jacobson, who earned the win last night.

“He’s been our stud all year,” said Dubanoski of 20-year-old Jacobson, “we all feel cool, calm and collected playing behind that kid.”

Trevor O’Shaughnessy started the game on the mound for Burnsville, but after the Bobcats got out to an early lead with a run in the first inning, the lanky lefthander surrendered a two-run homer to Eagan’s Derek Dietrich in the second.

“I’ve hit against O’Shaughessy a bunch and he usually throws a first pitch strike down the pipe,” said Dietrich of his second inning at-bat, “if he threw me a curveball, fine, I’m down 0-1, but I was sitting on that (fastball), knew it was coming , so [when it came] I had no choice but to hit it out.”

Dietrich’s home run gave the upstart Bandits (9-8 league, 16-16 overall) and manager / pitcher Brandon Paetznick the lead. The lead would last a little while, as Paetznick held a powerful Bobcats offense to one unearned run through the first four innings.

Then, with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and Eagan still up 2-1, Trocke doubled down the right field line and Dubanoski stepped up to the plate.

Down 3-0 in the count, Paetznick was able to deliver strike one. The next pitch seemed nearly a foot outside, but Paetznick was granted the strike call there as well. However, in hindsight, the Eagan pitcher may have preferred the umpire ruled it ball four as – two pitches later – Dubanoski drilled an outside fastball deep to right center to score Trocke for the tying run.

Paetznick was able to strand Dubanoski at second by getting Burnsville’s clean-up hitter, Roddy Hjort, to roll a grounder to second. Paetznick’s Bandits then responded to the Bobcats fifth-inning run by immediately establishing a threat in the top of the sixth.

Burnsville’s ace – Jacobson, who pitched a complete game against Elko on Sunday – relieved O’Shaughnessy to begin the inning and was greeted by a solid single from Eagan’s Roy Larson.

The Bandits next batter, first baseman Ryan Sward, drilled a 2-2 Jacobson pitch deep to right-center field, but, as Sward was prepared to pull up and possibly round second base, Bobcats centerfielder Wiens came up with a huge run-saving diving catch.

“That was a game changer,” said Paetznick of Wiens’ catch, “we would have had [at minimum] runners on second and third with no out and probably scored at least one or two runs that inning and taken the lead.”

Instead of Sward’s drive possibly igniting a big inning for Eagan, things fizzled out for the Bandits.

During the following at-bat, with Jacobson facing Eagan’s Mark Tatera, Larson was pegged out at second by Bobcats catcher Chad Eul attempting to steal. The failed attempt hurt the Bandits as Tatera delivered a single to left and Eagan would have had a second chance at a rally. But with two outs now, Jacobson was able to get Eagan’s next batter, Dave Clements, to ground out to third to end the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, with Eagan’s Paetznick still pitching, it was almost like a case of Déjà Vu. Just like the fifth inning, Paetznick retired the first two batters before Burnsville’s Trocke came to the plate. Also similar to the fifth, Trocke was able to get a hit – only this time it was an infield single to third. Then, sure enough, Dubanoski doubled again to score Trocke.

Another big Dubanoski hit, only this time the Bobcats slugger pulled the ball to left field and Trocke hustled in all the way from first.

”I saw that [the ball] got down the line [and] I was going no matter what,” said Trocke of his decision to round third and head home, “There were two outs and we needed the run badly, it was kind of do or die.”

With two perfect throws, Eagan may have had a play on Trocke, but third baseman Tatera could not cleanly handle the throw in from left and Trocke was able to cruise in with ease.

From there, the game would not end quietly as controversy ensued in the top of the eighth.

Eagan’s Tony Johnson was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Trent Anderson followed with a bunt attempt popped toward first base. Burnsville’s John Loeffler scooped up the ball on a short-hop and threw to second to force out the lead runner. However, the home plate umpire ruled it a catch and, after a brief argument from the Eagan managers, both Bandits base runners were called out.

“From the home umpire’s view, he thought it was caught, even though it wasn’t really close,” said Eagan manager Paetznick. “We argued a lot, and when you argue and [the umpires] are right you usually get tossed, so that shows you something right there.”

Jacobson followed the odd play and questionable call with a strikeout of Eagan’s Larson to end the eighth. Then, in the ninth, the hard-throwing righthander worked around a lead-off single by Sward with strike outs of Eagan’s Clements and Dietrich to end the game.

“Jacobson was throwing hard, he has a good curve,” said Dietrich, who struck out twice versus Jacobson after going 2-for-2 against O’Shaughnessy, “I wish [Burnsville] the best at state, we’ll get back at them next year.”

“He wanted to pitch the whole night and I wasn’t going to let him,” said Bobcats manager Wiens of his ace pitcher, Jacobson, who had pitched consecutive complete-game wins for Burnsville, “but when the guy’s been doing that good and wants to come in, I can’t say ‘no,’ and you saw what he did, he was just mowing them down.”

The loss brings Eagan’s 2010 season to an end. For Burnsville, the team’s quest in the State Tournament will begin in eight days, when the annual event is kicked off Friday, August 20 in Willmar and Bird Island.

Before heading to State, Wiens’ Bobcats will have a chance to exact revenge on their Cannon Valley League nemesis, the Savage Outlaws (who defeated Burnsville 3-2 on Monday), as the vaunted rivals play for the Section 5B championship and a higher State Tournament seed tonight at 7:30 in Elko.

Notable individual efforts:
Burnsville Bobcats
~ Matt Trocke: 4-for-4, 2B, 3 Rs
~ Charlie Dubanoski: 2-for-4, 2 2Bs, 2 RBI
~ Casey Jacobson: W, 4 IP, 0 Rs, 3 Hs, () Ks, 0 BBs

Eagan Bandits
~ Derek Dietrich: 2-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
~ Mark Tatera: 2-for-3, Sac Bunt, R
~ Brandon Paetznick: 7 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 9 Hs, 3 Ks, 1 BB

**Note: I was the PA for this game, thus the obstructed view for the game photos. I did, however, conduct post-game interviews and shoot pictures of three of the game’s best players (Burnsville's Charlie Dubanoski and Matt Trocke, Eagan's Derek Dietrich). The photos featured in this article are – from top to bottom – Burnsville’s Matt Trocke, Burnsville's Charlie Dubanoski, Eagan's Brandon Paetznick delivering a pitch to Burnsville's Robby Wiens, Paetznick pitching to Dubanoski, Eagan’s Derek Dietrich. Also, a picture of Burnsville's Casey Jacobson is shown next to the "Notable individual efforts" segment following the story.

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