L.M. ends losing streak

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2008

By Mike Simmons, staff writer

LAKE MILLS, Iowa &045; In winning its third game of the season Friday afternoon against Osage 1-0 in Lake Mills, the Lake Mills baseball team (3-1) accomplished a couple of firsts for the year.

Not only did the Bulldogs win their first North Iowa Conference game of the year, but it was the first time the Lake Mills seniors had ever beaten the Green Devils.

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&8220;That was big, hopefully it&8217;s a big momentum boost for us,&8221; said Bulldogs head coach Jason Blaser. &8220;We talked before the game about how our seniors had never beaten Osage, so it was a huge win for us and 1-0 in the conference isn&8217;t too bad of a position to be in either.&8221;

This game was a defensive struggle throughout as both teams combined for just three hits, although there were plenty of wild pitches, passed balls, and stolen bases on both sides of the field.

With Bulldog starter Nolan Zobel dominating the Green Devil bats, L.M. pushed the only run of the game across the plate in the bottom of the fourth when Wade Hebrink scored from third on a passed ball. The Bulldogs lone hit came courtesy of freshman Alex Grunhovd in the fifth inning.

The Bulldogs did dodge a bullet in the top of the sixth when Osage had the tying run on second, and the go-ahead run on first with just one out. But this is where having players who know what the game situation is can either get a team a win, or send them home in defeat.

The L.M. players knew what the situation was when the Green Devils hitter popped the ball up in the infield. The Osage baserunner on second didn&8217;t and paid the price when he was thrown out at third after trying to advance on the infield fly rule for an odd double play.

&8220;That&8217;s a play I haven&8217;t ever seen in my years of coaching,&8221; Blaser said. &8220;But that&8217;s why you have to go over every situation in practice and try to think of all those crazy things that can happen.&8221;

Once again in the top of the seventh the Bulldogs had to put down a Green Devil rally when Osage had the tying run on second. But just like the previous inning the Bulldogs got the final out at third on a steal attempt.

&8220;Unfortunately we made a few mistakes that could have cost us the game tonight, thankfully they didn&8217;t,&8221; Blaser said. &8220;But I would rather have a close game like this where they have to be in the game mentally than one where we would blow someone out. This gets us more prepared for three conference games next week.&8221;

The Bulldogs will play four consecutive games on the road next week, starting on Monday when they travel to West Hancock.