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
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