Men's baseball: Coyotes dial it up, advance in playoffs
The Cottage Grove Coyotes put it all together in their first two games of the 2013 playoffs.
The 'Yotes beat the Blizzard 8-1 in their first Twin City Men's Adult Baseball League playoff game on Saturday, then followed it up with an 18-1 rout of the Tigers in the quarterfinals on Sunday. The wins put Cottage Grove a win away from a berth in the TCMABL championship game.
"Everyone, 1-9, hit the ball really well," Cottage Grove's Nick Tuckner said. "The veterans really stepped it up."
The Cottage Grove Coyotes won the Twin City Men's Adult Baseball League regular-season American League title this year, finishing the season 18-4. The Coyotes were Twin City Men's Adult Baseball League champions in 2010. The team also won the American League title in 2010 and 2007.
In search of another TCMABL title, the Coyotes took it to the Blizzard in game No. 1. Cottage Grove went up 4-0 after the second inning on the way to building an 8-0 lead.
Cottage Grove ace Matt Ruben had a no-hitter going through eight innings, before the Blizzard put up back-to-back hits in the ninth inning to break up the no-no and score their lone run.
Ruben threw a complete game, two-hitter with 12 strikeouts for the win.
"Once we got four runs for Ruben it was over," Tuckner said. "He was dominating. His fastball had more heat on it than we've seen all season."
From the plate, Dan Kamrath led the way, compiling three hits, including a two RBI double. In addition, Tuckner and David Buckner each had two hits and two RBI and Randy Schmidt and Joe Paul each had two hits and one RBI.
During the regular season, Cottage Grove started the season 16-0, but went 2-4 in its last six games of the year. One of the teams it lost to down the stretch was the Tigers in a close, 1-0 affair in the regular-season finale.
On Sunday, the Coyotes got some payback with an 18-1 win. Cottage Grove scored six runs in the first inning and never looked back.
"We knew what we were going to see and we practiced for it," Tuckner said. "It was unbelievable on Sunday. Everyone was hitting. We just killed the ball."
Kamrath continued to swing a hot bat, collecting three hits and five RBI in the win. Also, Paul hit his first home run of the year and Schmidt smashed a home run that just stayed fair and landed on the top of Ruben's car in the parking lot. In addition, Nate Bochet had a double, a single and scored three runs from the No. 9 spot in the order. Roger Morrison shut down the Tigers on the mound for the win.
"Morrison threw one of his best games of the year Sunday at just the perfect time," Tuckner said.
Next, the Coyotes travel to Northeast Athletic Field in Minneapolis on Saturday, Aug. 24, to take on the Snappers at 10 a.m. in the American League championship.
The Snappers swept the Coyotes in a pair of one-run games back on Aug. 4 and are led by ace pitcher Jared Carlson.
"After Ruben, he's probably the second best pitcher in the league," Tuckner said. "But, we have 1 through 9 that can deliver and when we're on it doesn't matter who is pitching."
The winner of the American League Championship game will play in the TCMABL title game at noon on Sunday back at the Northeast Athletic Field.
"It's a really cool spot for a ballgame," Tuckner said. "Hopefully we can get some fans up there. I know when we see kids out there with CGAA hats and jerseys on, that really gets us jacked up."