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Baseball: Annandale's big inning sinks Osakis' tourney run

Osakis' Mason Moore keeps his tag on Annandale's Riley Niedzielski as Niedzielski slides into third base during an attempted steal in the 6AA playoffs in St. Cloud on Wednesday. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)1 / 5
Osakis' Hunter Infanger throws during the first inning of Wednesday's Section 6AA playoff game against Annandale. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)2 / 5
Osakis' Luke Imdieke and Annandale's Carson Gagnon wait for the call from the umpire at second base on Imdieke's attempted steal early in the Section 6AA playoff game in St. Cloud on Wednesday. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)3 / 5
Osakis' Mason Moore (left) is congratulated near home plate by teammate Waylon Muenzhuber after sliding in safely for a second-inning run that gave the Silverstreaks a 1-0 lead on Wednesday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)4 / 5
Osakis sophomore Waylon Muenzhuber makes a diving catch in right field against Annandale on Wednesday night in the 6AA playoffs. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)5 / 5

The Annandale Cardinals came into the Section 6AA baseball tournament as the 11th seed and losers of seven of their last eight games. It just took getting a fresh start for them to turn their season around.

The Cardinals (9-14) already knocked out higher seeds in Melrose, Royalton and Albany before a matchup with fifth-seeded Osakis in an elimination game at the MAC in St. Cloud on Wednesday. The Silverstreaks (17-6) led 1-0 after two innings, but an eight-run top of the third was all the Cardinals needed to cruise to a 10-2 win.

“They play a really tough schedule,” Osakis head coach Shad Schmidt said. “They play a lot of good schools, and that prepares them for a tournament like this. We knew they hit the ball pretty well, and they proved that today. Give credit to them, they hit the ball really hard.”

The loss is the end of the road for Osakis and sent Annandale into a game against top-seeded Foley, where the winner would advance to play Pierz in the section championship round.

The third inning for Annandale lasted 13 batters. The Cardinals had seven hits and three walks in the frame, including four straight two-out hits that produced runs. Junior Josh Lanctot lofted a two-run double to the gap to put the finishing touches on the inning and make it 8-1.

“We left the ball up a little in the zone, and they started hitting the ball,” Schmidt said. “That’s where it got away from us. You got to give them credit. It’s not like we were walking guys and had a bunch of errors and let the inning get away from us that way. They hit the ball, and good teams are going to do that.”

Hunter Infanger started on the mound for Osakis and went 2 2/3 innings before Annandale forced a pitching change to Luke Imdieke. Infanger was charged with eight runs allowed after the Cardinals put up eight hits on him. Imdieke worked the final 4 1/3 innings and gave up single runs in the fifth and sixth.

Wednesday’s short start was an uncharacteristic one for Infanger in what has been a good season on the mound for the junior right-hander. He slid comfortably into the No. 2 pitching spot in the rotation behind staff ace, Carter Rost.

“All of our pitchers have thrown a lot of pitches this year. There’s no doubt at this time of year that you’re going to be worn down a little bit,” Schmidt said. “He gave us everything he could. I have no regrets in what Hunter did for us or Luke (Imdieke) or any of our guys. Give them credit for hitting the ball and wearing us down a little bit.”  

Annandale’s Logan Jones, a senior right-hander, settled in and threw a complete-game. He allowed an unearned run after Mason Moore walked in the bottom of the second. Isaac Froemming singled in the next at-bat, and the ball got by the center fielder for a two-bag error that brought in Moore for a 1-0 lead.

Froemming and Imdieke each had two singles for Osakis. Carter Rost singled and then tripled with one out in the seventh. He scored on an Infanger groundout one batter later, but the Silverstreaks could not bunch together enough hits off of Jones to climb back in it.

“He threw a lot of off-speed that made us a little uneasy for some reason today,” Froemming said. “We’re usually pretty good with off-speed, but we just couldn’t get on him today.”

Froemming said the focus for Osakis now is working hard this offseason to come back better next spring. Senior Jarret Seela was lost early this season to injury, and Logan Hartshorn is the only other senior to replace from this group.

Hartshorn will leave a big hole to fill with what he did with his bat and also behind the plate at catcher, but this Osakis team was loaded with six juniors who will all be key seniors in 2020.

“If we play a good game, there’s not anyone you can put up against us that we should lose to,” Froemming said of looking ahead to next year. “I’m a firm believer in that. We’re a good team. We took a big step this year, and next year we need to take another step and see where it goes.”

The Silverstreaks entered the playoffs wanting to prove themselves in a good Section 6AA field. Winning three games in the tournament was a step in that direction.

“To get down to the final four is a big step for our kids. I think this will just light a fire under these guys and also project them into football and basketball,” Schmidt said. “It’s not all about baseball. We want these guys to be successful in everything they do. We’re fortunate to be with them and be a part of it.”

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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