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State Class A baseball: Osakis brings home runner-up trophy

Grayson Fortenberry (left) walked with fellow senior Austin Rollag back to the dugout after Monday's 3-0 loss. Fortenberry wasn't able to play in his final game after suffering a concussion during the semifinal game against New York Mills last Friday. (Eric Morken, Echo Press)

It was a season that played out like a movie script without the perfect ending.

On the final day of the high school baseball season, Osakis was right where it thought it would be coming into the year. The Silverstreaks talked about ending their season at Target Field from day one, and that's what they did at one of the most beautiful venues of anywhere in the game.

What didn't go as planned was the final outcome. The Silverstreaks did what they have done all spring on a sunny Monday morning in Minneapolis. They got good pitching, their defense was solid, even spectacular at times, but their bats went cold in a 3-0 loss to BOLD in the Class A title game.

"I'm very proud of every guy on the team," senior Ky Zimmel said. "Everybody put in the time. Everybody played their role. We can't hang our heads about this season. We had an unbelievable season."

The Warriors' Logan Sandgren was just a little too much in the championship game. The junior lefty tossed a one-hitter for BOLD, with the Silverstreaks' only hit coming from Doug Zimmel in the sixth inning.

Sandgren was effectively wild throughout the day. He walked five but never gave the Silverstreaks anything good to hit. He used his fastball to set up his off-speed pitches and was able to work his way out of a few jams in the early innings before settling in.

"That's about all you can do [is tip your cap to him]," Osakis head coach Shad Schmidt said. "He's got two or three no-hitters this year, one already in the state baseball tournament. He was smart. I didn't think he was overpowering, but he was smart. He hit his spots. He's a great pitcher, one of the best we've seen all year."

Sandgren made single runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings stand up. Jordan Frederick got the start for Osakis and took the tough-luck loss after going five innings. He allowed three runs, two earned, after scattering seven hits and three walks, while striking out two. He also got a couple great plays from his defense as Ky Zimmel and Hunter Scherr both made diving catches in the outfield.

The chance to start a championship game at Target Field was everything the junior righty thought it would be. He put aside any nerves he had and gave his team a chance before giving way to Ky Zimmel in the sixth.

"It was amazing," Frederick said of pitching on this stage. "It's my dream to be up there. I hope I can be up there when I'm older pitching. It's just what I wanted. I feel like I [had my stuff working]...I feel like the lower part of the strike zone was a little shut off, but I threw the best I could, and they hit the best they could."

This is a team that fought to the final out as Hunter Scherr put together a good at-bat and worked the count full with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Sandgren eventually got him to ground out as the Warriors stormed the field to celebrate a championship.

"It's something that we can be proud of," Schmidt said of his team's second-place finish. "It's a legacy that these kids are going to leave at our school, but at the same time, you feel like you get here and you may never come back here. You may never have that opportunity and you'd like to seize those moments and take advantage of them."

The sting of losing was still too fresh on Monday for this group to fully appreciate exactly how much it accomplished this season. It probably won't take long before that sets in, though.

These players and coaches will likely be remembered as the best baseball team ever assembled at Osakis High School. They finished the year 20-3. Even after the 3-0 loss, they still outscored opponents 51-7 during the playoffs.

Included in that were back-to-back shutouts in a 3-0 win over New York Mills and a 10-0 win over Blackduck at the state tournament. That got them to Target Field, where they had a chance to play on a field that only a handful of high school players can say they have played on.

"It was incredible," junior Drew Fearing said. "I thought it was going to be cool, but I didn't think it was going to be this amazing. Even though we lost, it was a great experience. The first state appearance in school history, and we get second place. I don't think we can complain about that."

What made the experience even more enjoyable was how close this group was as a team. That was the common refrain by players and coaches after coming up just short on Monday. That's ultimately what these guys will remember most from a season filled with memorable moments.

"I'm going to remember this team and this coaching staff," Ky said. "You can have talent, but if you don't play well together and get along, it doesn't mean anything. We're a close-knit family, and that was the best experience."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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