The Cannon Falls Bombers’ baseball team saw its season come to an end Thursday evening in the Section 2AA championship game against the Belle Plaine Tigers. The Bombers needed to beat the Tigers twice to advance to the Class AA state tournament, but they lost 2-1 in the first game which was reminiscent of their loss to the Tigers over the weekend.
Cannon Falls overcame adversity and a rough start to the season with an eight-game winning streak and ended up going 9-2 over their last 11 games. Head coach Bucky Lindow could not praise his team enough for what they accomplished this spring.
“I keep using the word resilient, people say that kids aren’t resilient anymore, but these kids are,” he said. “Everything we asked them, their attitude and effort was tremendous. Couldn’t ask for anything more. We were just talking about all the things they learned in a short period of time. When we came off the pause and all of a sudden we were playing three or four games in three or four days, or five games in five days, and then a few days of practice with all the things we were trying to cram in, and then we did it again the next week. They were just awesome about learning and developing and they were rewarded with it the way we played the last three weeks.”
Senior Riley Miller, who started on the mound for the Bombers, gave his team an early lead when he hit a two-out, solo home run in the bottom of the first and Cannon Falls led 1-0.
“To have a one-nothing lead in that game felt pretty good because we knew he (Miller) was gonna be good on the mound for us,” Lindow said after the game.
Cannon Falls hung onto that lead until the bottom of the fourth where Belle Plaine tied the game after a leadoff double by Luke Luskey, who scored on a ground ball deep in the hole by Tiger pitcher Jackson Kruger. Senior shortstop Marcus Banks just couldn’t get to it in time to throw out Luskey at home. The Tigers then took a 2-1 lead the next inning after a walk and three consecutive singles, which would be the final.
Lindow said his team had a much better approach at the plate this time around -- in their first matchup against Belle Plaine, Kruger only threw 70-some pitches while Thursday he threw 93 -- but the results were pretty much the same as the Bombers managed just the one run and three hits. He said that the Bombers had a few other chances to potentially push runs across, but just did not have the clutch hitting.
Outside of the offensive difficulties, Lindow said both teams pitched well and played solid defense. He highlighted the performance of Miller, senior catcher Loden Bell who threw out a runner and the outfield for chasing down some fly balls.
Miller, Bell and sophomore Ari Wells had Cannon Falls’ three hits. Miller threw six innings and gave up two runs, both earned, on five hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts. Kruger pitched a complete game for Belle Plaine and gave up just the one run on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
Lindow finished by expressing how this year’s seniors really created a unique environment for the Bombers.
“Four seniors (Miller, Bell, Banks and Owen Edstrom), and I was fortunate to walk off the field with three of them and just talk about how they enjoyed being with each other,” he said. “If you’re playing high school sports and you enjoy being with the guys you’re with, it’s a fun experience. We took four seniors, six juniors, some sophomores, and then for the playoffs a couple freshmen and we had an eighth-grader with us all year, to see those guys become a family was just a joy to watch. That’s what high school athletics is all about.”