After a solid opening game team performance, Blaine ran into trouble dropping back to back close games including a 9-8 score against Champlin Park April 9 before being shutout by one of the conference favorites, Osseo 2-0, April 11.
Blaine opened up an early 2-0 lead against Champlin Park thanks to a two-run home run by Davis Bryan, his first of the spring. The Rebels came back to with three runs in the second inning and four more in the fifth inning to lead 7-4.
Alek Minkel led of Blaine’s sixth inning with a double, followed by a Nick Plankers walk which set the table for Cole Mortenson’s RBI double.
Jace Otto proved to be the Bengals batter of the game going 4-for-4 with three RBI and scored twice, including a key one-out RBI double to tie the game in the sixth inning 7-7.
Champlin Park added two runs in the home half of the sixth inning as Sievers hit a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded off relief pitcher Tanner Schumacher.
Two days later Blaine once again found itself behind in a close game as Osseo made the most of a two-run single in the second inning stand for the Northwest Suburban Conference win April 11.
Schumacher returned to the mound for his second start of the season but took the loss giving up two earned runs on four his with seven strike outs over six innings of work. He also walked two batters as his Orioles counterpart Ben Johnson held an identical line with five hits, three walks, one wild pitch and no runs allowed in seven innings of work.
Otto and Mortenson each had two hits and Schneider managed to work the count for three walks to highlight the Bengal at-bats.
Blaine opened the 2012 season with big win over rival Centennial 10-2 at Paul Parkway, April 5.
The Cougars conceded an early 2-0 lead as Blaine scored twice in the third and fourth innings to make it 4-2 before exploding for a six-run fifth inning for the final result in the Northwest Suburban Conference game.
New Blaine coach Eric Feigum said it was great to get that first win out of the way. “I think all of us, the coaches and players, were really anxious to get the season started.
It was a lot of fun to start off with such a complete team win,” he said. “We got down early but the guys didn’t hang their heads. With 15 seniors and one junior, we have leaders everywhere. We were up on the fence cheering each other on, picking each other up and just playing the game the way it should be played. It was fun to be a part of.”
Otto, a senior second baseman and Bryan, a junior third baseman each had two hits and two RBI. Mortenson, a senior, went 2-for-3 scoring twice and drove in one run.
The Bengals sent senior captain Tanner Schumacher to the mound where he struck out eight over five innings of work to give Blaine a 1-0 record.
Feigum said Schumacher was able to keep his emotions in check and settled into a nice groove as the game progressed. “Their leadoff guy got a nice hit off him right away,” Feigum said. “It was great to see him settle in and get the command of the strike zone the way he has during practice and our scrimmages. Once he got going he was fantastic. He is going to be our horse all year. He has worked really hard in the off season and it shows.”
Defensively, Feigum was pleased with the way everyone stayed in the moment and made the most of their opportunities. “Trent Hensler went in late in the game and made one of the better catches you will see n right field. Junior Davis Bryan was solid at third base as well to go with two hits and two RBI.”
Jason Olson is at [email protected]