HENNEPIN — The conditions Saturday night at Massino Field favored the pitchers for the championship game of Putnam County’s Legends Wooden Bat Tournament.
“We had a layoff, wood bats, cold night,” PC coach Dave Garcia said. “The elements favored a guy who was just going to pound the zone.”
Illinois Lutheran’s Sam Geraci did just that as he edged Harold Fay and the Panthers 1-0.
“Their pitcher was throwing strikes. That was probably the hardest fastball we’ve seen all season,” Garcia said. “We couldn’t get anything going. We faced a good, quality pitcher. That’s why I put this together. I wanted the guys to see pitchers like that because those are the type of pitchers you see deep in the postseason.”
The Chargers got something going in the first inning.
Geraci led off the bottom of the first with a double to the right-center field gap.
He was moved to third on a groundout to the pitcher and scored on a ground ball to the second baseman.
“I thought Harold Fay did one heck of a job,” Garcia said. “He gave up a lead-off hit and that guy ended up scoring, but he shut them down (after that).”
Illinois Lutheran managed just one hit after the first inning, while the Panthers recorded just three hits in the game.
Putnam County had a good chance in the seventh inning but couldn’t push across the tying run.
No. 7 hitter Justin Pettit led off with a single up the middle.
Jake Kasperski followed with a walk and Evan Kreiser moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt.
Garcia then called for lead-off hitter R.J. Copeland to attempt a squeeze bunt, but he couldn’t get it down on a pitch out of the zone, and pinch runner Austin Biagini was thrown out.
Copeland eventually struck out to end the game.
“That’s baseball,” Garcia said. “We tried manufacturing some runs. It just didn’t work out. We weren’t able to get it done. We had some sophomores in there trying to get it done for us. They didn’t get it done this time, but they’re going to get it done next time. I have faith in them and that’s why they’re out there.”
The Panthers (12-6) reached the title game by beating Hartsburg-Emden 2-0 and Bureau Valley 10-2 in 10 innings in pool play games.
Tyler Williams earned the win against H-E, while Cody Ballerini allowed one hit over six innings of relief to earn the win against BV.
“I was very happy. Tyler Williams threw an outstanding game. I was very proud of him,” Garcia said. “The BV game, Cody Ballerini ended up getting the win in relief. We were able to get some things going. We were able to drive the ball up the middle a little bit."
At Spring Valley
Hall and Mendota each went 1-1 in Pool D at Foley Field.
The Red Devils topped Sherrard 3-1 in their opener. Danny Nolasco allowed six hits, struck out four and walked three in a complete game. Miguel Villarreal was 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Mendota fell 9-0 in five innings to Sherrard in its opener as the Trojans were no hit. Aaron Olsen took the loss on the mound.
In the final pool game, the Trojans beat Hall 3-2.
Riley Schuhler went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, while Trae Blumhorst allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out nine and walking two in a complete game.
Zach Urbanski was 1-for-3 with an RBI for Hall (11-3), while Austin Schmitt took the pitching loss.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.