In the double-elimination Sub-Section 8 tournament, No. 1-seeded Tri-City Red needed to defeat Forest Lake twice over the weekend in White Bear Lake to take the title, and they nearly pulled it off.
Officials called off Saturday’s first scheduled game due to rain, pushing it to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Forest Lake lost the first game, 5-2, forcing game two without the help of starting catcher and power hitter, Beau Fandel, who suffered an injury in game one.
With a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, Forest Lake found themselves in a sticky situation in the field with just one out. Following an infield roller and a single off of starting pitcher Phil Sauer, Tri-City Red had runners on first and second with the go-ahead run at the plate. Sauer battled from the mound and with a 1-2 count, snagged a zinging liner for out No. 2 before throwing to first base for the force out to close the inning.
Forest Lake added to the excitement when Sauer walked the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth inning. Head coach Valdie Magstadt brought in Joe Vacinek to pitch.
Vacinek recorded the first out of the inning off of a sacrifice bunt that moved the Tri-City runners to second and third base. Vacinek would walk the next two batters, closing Forest Lake’s lead to 3-2 with bases loaded and one out.
Noah Brown, who played third base due to pitching changes, came up with a game-saving snag when the next Tri-City Red batter drilled a shot up the left-field line for the second out.
Vacinek secured the win and championship by forcing a pop-up to center field, where Skyler Winning made a running catch for the final out.