Rain delays are a part of baseball. But there are rain delays and then there are nutty, crazy oh-can-you-believe-this rain delays. For example, between the time the Lakeville North baseball players got out of bed Saturday and the time the first pitch was thrown against Northfield, a flight from Minneapolis could have been on final approach in Amsterdam.
That flight time is more than eight hours and the Panthers waited nearly that long for their Class 3A state semifinal game to start at CHS Field in St. Paul. Originally the game was scheduled for noon, but on Friday the start time was moved to 10 a.m. because forecasts called for rain arriving in the afternoon.
The rain just laughed at that idea and arrived early; CHS Field was soaked Saturday morning. The North-Northfield game finally began at 1:21 p.m. … three hours, 21 minutes late. It ended with the Panthers defeating Northfield 5-3. They will meet Chanhassen in the state championship game Monday at Target Field.
The North players had all arrived at school by 6:45 a.m. to get in some early batting practice. They were at CHS Field by 8:30 and then the serious waiting began.
“We went to the batting cage a couple times,” said junior center fielder Drew Stewart, who had two hits and drove in one run. “Me and a couple other buddies on the team walked around the whole stadium, took pictures and everything, cracked jokes.
“We were all kind of a little tired. We were like, ‘Should we take a nap?’ But where were we going to take a nap at? It was actually pretty laid-back.”
Northfield scored the game’s first run when Caleb Malek tripled into the right field corner in the bottom of the first inning. Lakeville North scored three in the third; Nick Juaire drove in the first run with a double and Angelo Altaville hit a sacrifice fly and another run scored on a wild pitch.
The Panthers went ahead 4-1 in the fourth when Stewart doubled. Northfield scored two in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Adam Rodgers to make it 4-3. North took the 5-3 lead in the seventh when Mitch Frederick singled in a run.
For a bunch of sleepy teenagers, North pounded 10 hits and did not commit an error. Northfield had five hits and no errors.
“I don’t know that it does anything except makes me a little nervous,” Lakeville North coach Tony Market said of the long delay. “When you’ve got young guys and they start to run out of things to do. You can only call each other so many times from the bullpen. And then you prank call the other team. and eventually it can lead to things that are less than favorable. I thought they did a pretty good job. I thought they battled through that.”
Yes, there were prank phone calls from the bullpen.
North senior right fielder Kyle Rhodus admitted that there was “a little goofing around. There were definitely a lot of phone calls from the bullpen, taking some swings, jokes being passed around, keeping everybody loose and focused.
“With the weather it’s always difficult to keep people focused. We kind of have that mentality, where we’re going to go out and get it. That’s what kept us focused the whole time, no matter how long we were going to wait.”
--In the other Class 3A semifinal, Chanhassen defeated Armstrong 7-2 behind a four-RBI performance by designated hitter Jack Mattson. He hit a two-out, two-run double in the first inning, an RBI double in the third and a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
MONDAY’S STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
AT TARGET FIELD
--Class 1A, Noon/ New Life Academy vs. Springfield
--Class 2A, 3 p.m./ St. Cloud Cathedral vs. Minnehaha Academy
--Class 3A, 6 p.m./ Lakeville North vs. Chanhassen
STATE LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Girls: Eden Prairie 14, Lakeville South 13 (two overtimes)
The Eden Prairie Eagles, who earned runner-up honors in 2014, claimed their third title by defeating Lakeville South. Kelly Wolfe scored the game-winner for the Eagles; it was her second goal of the game. Sammie Morton and Jessica Lagerquist each scored three goals for Eden Prairie, and Angie Heppelmann and Sara Woodring added two apiece.
Boys: White Bear Lake 12, Bloomington Jefferson 8
The Bears led 6-2 after the opening quarter and remained in control in handing the Jaguars their first loss of the season. It is the first state boys lacrosse championship for the Bears.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 664
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