John's Journal
Radio And Internet Coverage Of Today’s Baseball Games6/22/2011
All of today’s three state championship games at Target Field will be available on the internet as well as on many local radio stations around Minnesota. Here’s where to find the action…

On the Internet/ GrandStadium’s webcast can be found at prep45.kstc45.com. Minnesota Sports Broadcast Network will carry internet audio at mnsportsnetwork.com

And here’s the radio lineup…

Class 1A/ KBEX in Mora, KDUZ/KARP in Hutchinson, KLFD in Litchfield, KYSM in Mankato and KNUJ in New Ulm.

Class 2A/ KXSS in St. Cloud, WBHR in Sauk Centre, KNSI in St. Cloud.

Class 3A/ No radio.
Recapping A Great Day At Target Field6/22/2011
Here is a by-the-clock accounting of Wednesday's state championship baseball tripleheader at Target Field, which began with an early-morning decision and ended more than 12 hours later with a stunning, improbable rally in the final inning of the season's final game...

7:53 a.m.: My first Tweet of the day, sent from home, says “Play Ball! We are a go for today's baseball state championship games at Target Field. Repeat: baseball will be played today at Target Field.”

9:45: Arrive in the press box and watch the grounds crew removing the tarp from the infield. Notice injured Twins Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel working out on the field.

10:10: Walking the field-level corridor, I run into Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial student manager Brandon Wiederhoeft, who asks. “Do you know where the batting cages are?” Yes, they are behind the visitors dugout. A few minutes later on the field, LCWM infielder Brandon Gilman asks me, “Do you know when we can start playing catch?” Nope, I can’t answer that one.

11:45: Had a quick reunion with former Twins general manager Terry Ryan, whom I knew well back when I helped cover the Twins for the Minneapolis paper.

Noon: Rosters for Class 1A teams Eden Valley-Watkins (right) and Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial are introduced.

12:05: MSHSL intern Steve Hurt, knowing Target Field is a Pepsi building, sneaks a Diet Coke into the press box and makes my day.

12:48 p.m.: Receive Tweet from a Lake Crystal fan in the ballpark, correcting P.A. guy Dick Jonckowski’s pronounciation of right fielder Spencer Yackel’s name. It’s either YAKE-el or YACK-el … we’re still not sure.

1:18: Two nice ladies (left) sitting behind home plate respond to the John’s Journal Twitter giveaway contest and take home MSHSL caps.

1:45: Steve Hurt hands me a second Diet Coke, informs me that he brought four of ‘em. So far, he is the day's MVP.

2:09: Eden Valley-Watkins finishes off 8-4 win over Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial for the Class 1A championship. I ask winning pitcher Matt Geislinger, who threw 126 pitches, how he feels. Answer: “Tired.”

3:45: I go on the air with Emmett Keenan on St. Cloud’s WJON radio during the St. Cloud Cathedral-La Crescent game. Afterwards I walk into the next booth and chat with Terry Ryan and fellow Twins executive Jim Rantz. I do Emmett a favor and asked Terry if he would chat with Emmett for an inning. Somebody owes me one …

4:20: Knowing that dinner will be served to tournament workers, the question is posed: “Does anybody know what they’re serving for dinner?” It’s another in a long line of unanswered questions.

4:44: Cathedral first baseman Sean Giambruno makes the defensive play of the day, making a diving stab and flipping to pitcher Andrew Thome for the out at first.

4:55: After Cathedral defeats La Crescent 6-1 in 2A to win its seventh state baseball championship, I ask Cathedral coach Bob Karn (who is in his 41st season) his age. His smiling reply: “How old am I? I’m a lot younger on a day like today when we won. Had we not won, I’d be another 10 years older.” (Bob, pictured here with his team, is 69.)

5:25: Dinner? Chicken and rice.

6:16: Another candidate for play of the day…Burnsville center fielder Dan Motl races in and makes a diving catch in the top of the first inning in the 3A game.

6:21: Maple Grove third baseman Karl Sorenson retreats into foul territory and makes a sweet over-the-shoulder grab. Play of the day? Plenty of candidates.

7:05: For the first time all day, light rain begins to fall. It’s just enough to move a few fans to seats underneath overhangs in the lower deck.

7:08: Maple Grove’s Logan Hershey hits a two-out, two-run, fifth-inning triple to break a scoreless tie. The Crimson lead 5-0 before the third out is made.

8:05: The Burnsville Blaze begin a wild celebration after scoring six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and defeating Maple Grove 6-5 to win the 3A championship. The inning had just about everything: five hits … no errors … an intentional walk followed by a hit batsman to score a run … and with two out and the season hanging in the balance, Bo Hellquist lacing a single down the first base line, driving in two runs and setting off the party.

It was a fine way to end the 2010-11 school year and an outstanding end to the day’s baseball games. What will stick with me the longest from Wednesday, however, is something St. Cloud Cathedral's Karn said.

It's the quote of the day: “Each day is such a great opportunity to just play, but to play in a championship at Target Field is great, particularly with this group of players. They really genuinely get along, they care about each other, it’s a healthy place to be and to play. I’m really glad I’m able to be with them.”

--Diet Coke Count: four.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 821

*Miles John has driven: 10,981

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
Baseball Tripleheader Has Been Moved Back 6/20/2011
Attention baseball fans ...

The state championship baseball tripleheader scheduled for Tuesday at Target Field has been postponed until Wednesday. Because of weather concerns, the MSHSL wanted to avoid having teams travel to Target Field with no guarantee of games being played.

If weather also becomes an issue on Wednesday, the games could be played on Thursday. A big Thank You goes to the Twins for making Target Field available for three days.

The best way to stay on top of this type of breaking news is via Twitter and Facebook.
A Great Day For Baseball … Next Stop: Target Field6/17/2011
I’ve felt like a statewide courier this week, driving to Coon Rapids, Becker, Jordan and St. Cloud on consecutive days for state tournaments. The first three stops were for golf and Friday’s journey took me to St. Cloud for the state semifinals in the Class 2A baseball tournament.

Friday was a major day for Minnesota high school baseball, with the six contestants being determined for Tuesday’s state championship games at Target Field. Here is the lineup for the big day:

Class 1A at noon: Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (25-3) vs. Eden Valley-Watkins (22-2).

Class 2A at 3 p.m.: St. Cloud Cathedral (23-3) vs. LaCrescent (25-3, pictured at right).

Class 3A at 6p.m.: Burnsville (23-3) vs. Maple Grove (26-1).

Target Field made its debut as the site of the title games a year ago, and Eden Valley-Watkins is the only defending champion to return. Burnsville also played there last year, losing to Eden Prairie in the title game.

For all the teams, Tuesday will be a thrilling day all around.

Cathedral coach Bob Karn has been on the job for 41 years and has a career record of 631-267. Tuesday’s championship game will be his first time coaching at Target Field, and he is thrilled with everything that has taken place this season.

“What a joy as you get older to be able to live with 17- and 18-year-olds doing something that's just passionately fun,” he said. “It helps me to be young.”

As for the impact of championship games at Target Field? “I can't even begin to measure how excited the kids are to think of that as a possibility,” he said. “It's an incredible opportunity for them and it just changes the dimension of everything. It's just a thrill.”

It will indeed be a great day for baseball on Tuesday. If you watch the Twins on TV and envy those people sitting in the big, comfortable, expensive seats right behind home plate, here’s your chance to do the same for just a few dollars. Tickets on Tuesday are only $10 for adults and $7 for students.

TRIVIA QUESTION

This quiz centers on a father-son coaching combination, Dean and Troy Urdahl (pictured). Here are some facts to consider:

--Under Troy Urdahl, St. Anthony Village won Class 2A baseball state titles in 2006 and 2008. This year, the Huskies fell to St. Cloud Cathedral in Thursday's state quarterfinals, then lost to Proctor in the consolation bracket Friday. Troy has coached the Huskies for nine years.

--Dean Urdahl coached cross-country at New London-Spicer for 29 years before retiring from coaching, taking 18 teams to state. His girls teams won Class A championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Here’s the question: Is there another father-son coaching combination that has won five state titles ... in two different sports ... coaching both boys and girls? Send your answer to me via email (address is at the top of John’s Journal).

SOFT DRINK UPDATE

After wandering aimlessly through the proverbial desert from golf course to golf course to golf course this week and finding not one available Diet Coke, my reward awaited me in St. Cloud on Friday. My close personal friend Emmett Keenan, the St. Cloud Cathedral athletic director and a site manager for the 2A baseball tournament, took exceptionally good care of me.

A cooler in the tournament headquarters was stocked with several types of refreshments, including enough Diet Coke to swim in. It was a grand way to end a busy, fun week.

See you at Target Field!

--Diet Coke Count: Four

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 815
*Miles John has driven: 10,936

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
A Change At The Top and A Great Day For An Ace6/16/2011
Hey! No rain! What a concept! Thursday was one of those days we all dream about when the winter winds are whipping across our state. I spent the day at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, completing my three-day tour of the state golf tournaments.

Ridges was the site of the Class 2A tournament, and there were two major headlines from the event: Red Wing ended a three-year run as girls state runner-up with a convincing victory and a young man from Staples-Motley got a hole-in-one. (Oh, there was also a stupidity-induced technology issue.) Let’s begin with the Red Wing girls …

A NEW DAY DAWNS

Minnewaska has been the queen of girls golf in Minnesota, winning a state-record five consecutive championships through last season. A year ago, Minnewaska edged Red Wing by one stroke for the team title. When nine-hole scores started coming in Thursday (the second day of the two-day tournament), it became clear that the Wingers were finally going to take home gold medals.

They finished 17 shots ahead of second-place Detroit Lakes, and Minnewaska was another 12 strokes behind the Lakers in third place. After receiving their medals and team trophy and posing for photos, the Wingers did what has become a Ridges tradition: they jumped into a small pond that borders the clubhouse.

Red Wing’s success throughout the season against the best 2A and 3A teams in the state is reason for discussing whether the Wingers are the best girls team in the state regardless of class. They beat Wayzata in two of three meetings and defeated Stillwater both times they met; Wayzata and Stillwater tied for the 3A state title on Wednesday at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids. Red Wing also outscored Minnewaska in two out of three regular-season tournaments and outshot Detroit Lakes in two tournaments.

The Wingers will move to Class 3A next season, setting up what should be an interesting and competitive season.

“I’m not saying we would have beaten Wayzata up there, but they wouldn’t have beat us today,” said Red Wing coach Mark Herzog. “We played really good today.”

The Wingers had a 330 team total on the first day and trailed Detroit Lakes by one shot. But their 311 team score Thursday blew away the competition. Junior Marisa Toivonen finished fourth among the individuals with a 158 total, and junior Katie Kesti, Drake-bound senior Danielle Brooks and senior Nikki Pasch also were in the top 10.

“I knew last year when we left here that we could be one of the top teams in both classes,” Herzog said. “I thought we were good enough to beat anybody this year, and we beat all the teams this year. You want to play good when it counts, and we played good today, really good.”

THE ACE FROM STAPLES-MOTLEY

Michael Strain's second career hole-in-one will be etched a little bit deeper into his memory than the first. The junior from Staples-Motley had already recorded an ace on his home course,The Vintage at Staples, but getting one in the state tournament is going to be awfully hard to top.

"I'll remember this forever," Strain (left) said of his ace on the 154-yard 17th hole Thursday in Jordan. "The second-to-last hole in the state tournament on the last day? It's go big or go home, and I went big."

Strain had chipped in on the 16th hole, and his back-nine score of 33 gave him a 72 for the day and a 147 total. That gave him a share of seventh place with Shattuck-St. Mary's sophomore Anthony Brodeur, son of NHL goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Michael is a left-handed golfer, which worked to his advantage on No. 17. "I hit a 9-iron and I was about 150 yards out," he said. "It was setting up really good for me because it was a back-right pin and the tee was on the left and I play a big hook as a lefty. It just kind of went in the hole. It bounced once."

TECHNOLOGY ISSUES

Let me start this segment of today's essay with an admission: I have bad hands. On Wednesday, I dropped my camera on my laptop and the computer did not like it one bit. The screen went all kablooey on me, rendering the laptop useless. My wife, as it happens, had brought home a new iPad 2 earlier this week, so her hubby convinced her to let him take it for a test run in Jordan. She was smart enough to buy a keyboard for her iPad, and our 20-year-old daughter showed her butter-fingered fathered how to find and use a program on which John's Journal could be constructed.

It worked like a dream, too. It was massively easy to spin around on the internet to Twitter and Facebook and the MSHSL website, etc., and stay updated on all the state quarterfinal baseball games that were played Thursday. And if you are reading this, my wife might not get her iPad back for a while...

--Diet Coke Count: Zero for the third day in a row. Again, Thursday's golf venue offered an alternate soft drink. I will be in St. Cloud for the Class 2A state baseball semifinals Friday, and here's hoping my Diet Coke habit will resume at Dick Putz Field.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 811
*Miles John has driven: 10,810

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn