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Coyotes sweep Indians

Max Stedt follows the ball off his bat during the Coyotes 9-2 win over Inver Grove on Sunday at Woodridge Park (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)1 / 2
David Buckner throws a pitch during the Coyotes 9-2 win over Inver Grove on Sunday at Woodridge Park (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)2 / 2

Player-manager Randy Schmidt felt the friction between his team.

After the Coyotes split last Thursday night with the Krunch, who were 0-4 on the season heading into the double-header, some of the players started to go back-and-forth at each other.

And while hostility within a team can be concerning, it didn’t seem to bother Schmidt.

“It was good to see that I think, because then it shows that they care,” Schmidt said. “It was fun to see how the dynamic would work when we had a hard time like that.”

For Cottage Grove, the scuffle led to success.

The Coyotes bounced back with a two-game sweep over the Inver Grove Indians on Sunday at Woodridge Park.

Cottage Grove was able to take the first game on the strength of Steve Bahl’s arm. In his first start of the season, Bahl threw a complete-game shutout, striking out six and allowing just three hits as the Coyotes came out on top of a 3-0 decision.

“He was outstanding,” Schmidt said. “He stepped up.”

Bahl’s strong performance was needed, as the Coyotes couldn’t muster much with the bats. Hans Heggernes and David Buckner led the offensive push, as each finished with a hit and a walk in an otherwise difficult offensive performance as Cottage Grove only hammered out four hits. Still, the Coyotes were able to plate one run apiece in the third, fourth and fifth inning, which proved to be enough for the victory.

The bats came alive in the second game as the Coyotes belted out nine hits en route to a 9-2 victory to complete the sweep.

Cottage Grove amassed three multi-run innings, as it tallied two runs in the first inning, four in the third and three in the fifth.

The highlight of the offensive outburst was a two-run homer from Dan Kamrath, which accentuated his three-hit, two RBI performance.

“We call him our own Jim Thome,” Schmidt said. “He’s the oldest guy on the team, and he just crushed one there. He can do that, he’s done that every year.”

Sunday marked a breakthrough for Kamrath, who went hitless in six at-bats during the two games versus the Krunch.

“If we can get him going in the middle of the order, that’s going to help a lot,” Schmidt said.

Matt Ruben also had a good game at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI.

The Coyotes got another solid performance on the mound in the second game. Buckner got the start and threw five innings while allowing just four hits and one earned run.

“Buck did a great job,” Schmidt said.

Bucker and Bahl were both forced into duty on the mound, as the Coyotes traditional starters Ruben and Roger Morrison were unable to throw due to injury. Morrison is dealing with an inkle issue, while Ruben is having problems with his shoulder.

“So we had to piece it together,” Schmidt said, “and it worked out fine.”

Thursday’s split with the Krunch featured a pair of one-run affairs. The first game was picked up in the sixth inning with the Coyotes leading 2-1. The start of the game was played June 22, before being postponed to last Thursday due to rain. Cottage Grove was able to hold onto its one-run advantage as Morrison pitched the last inning-plus to secure the victory and pick up the save.

But the Coyotes came up on the short end of the decision in the nightcap as the Krunch scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to rally from a two-run deficit and steal a 4-3 victory -- their first of the season.

“We should win those games,” Schmidt said. “We didn’t and it was disappointing.”

Still, the loss may have been a good thing for Cottage Grove. The ensuing friction following the loss appeared to help the Coyotes regain their mojo, which was evident on Sunday. Schmidt said he saw more energy in his team than he’d seen throughout the early part of the season.

“Typically we’ve had it where we’re more flat,” he said. “But we got back to our old ways [on Sunday] and it was fun to get everybody in and have some success.”

Now Schmidt said the key is to build on the success moving forward. The Coyotes aren’t scheduled to play again until July 13, but could potentially make up one of their two previously rained-out series this weekend.

“We need to keep bringing it,” Schmidt said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing from here.”