Lakers close league play with wins

The Maple Lake Lakers North Star League play was wrapped up as the Lakers posted exciting league victories over Delano, a Class B team, and NSL North division leader, St. Michael. Then they fell to the Minneapolis Angels in a non-league game.

Maple Lake vs. Delano

The Lakers competed in their first game of the week on Tuesday, July 15, as they hosted the Delano Athletics, a Class B team that the Lakers needed to be victorious against for the play-off seedings.

Veteran Ryan Klingelhofer took the mound to start the game, and Delano connected at the plate right away as they rallied to score two runs. Mic Johnson in center field and Marcus Zahn at the shortstop position recorded the outs for the Lakers as Johnson caught two fly-outs and Zahn recorded a ground-out. Maple Lake stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first, but they didn't have the hot bats in the first inning.

The hot bats switched teams in the second inning as the Athletics went three-up and three-down while Maple Lake put four runs on the board. M. Johnson started the rally off with a double, and Cody Decker followed suit with an RBI single. Then, after a sacrifice bunt by Tony Smith, Eric Wurm ripped a single that drove in two runs. Riley Decker finished the rally off as he connected for an RBI single as well.

Klingelhofer allowed just one hit in the top of the third, and then in the bottom half of the inning Maple Lake had one more run cross the plate. Keith Jerpseth ripped a one-out double, and with two outs C. Decker drove in Jerpseth with a double of his own.

The fourth inning featured solid defense as both the Lakers and Athletics didn't allow a run and were errorless. The flawless defense of Maple Lake carried over into the top of the fifth as M. Johnson recorded two more outs in center field. Maple Lake in the bottom of the fifth, however, picked the Delano defense apart as they scored one more run on two hits, both singles by Chad Raiche and M. Johnson, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of C. Decker.

It was a one, two, three inning for Maple Lake's defense in the top of the sixth. This was their third straight three-up and three-down inning. The Lakers added one more run to their total in the bottom of the sixth as Dave Hansen, pinch running for Tony Smith who was hit by the pitch, scored on a double hit by Nate Johnson.

With the score at 7-2, Klingelhofer recorded two strikeouts in the top of the seventh as the Lakers held Delano scoreless for the sixth straight inning. Maple Lake, though, was also held scoreless in the bottom of the seventh.

The Lakers got into a jam in the top of the eighth as two runners scored early on, so manager Dale Decker went to the mound and brought in Zahn to relieve Klingelhofer. Zahn, with runners on second and third, loaded the bases up as he hit his first batter, but he came through and picked up two big strikeouts with the bases loaded. Then offensively, in the bottom of the eighth, Maple Lake went three-up and three-down for just their first time all game.

Maple Lake held a 7-4 lead going into the top of the ninth and with Zahn picking up two more strikeouts and holding the Athletics scoreless, the Lakers recorded the victory.

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