Baseball: Tigers are Section 1AAAA runners-up after great playoff run
The spectacular section playoffs run that saw the Farmington Tigers baseball team win four elimination games in a row came to an end Tuesday night in Dundas when they fell to South Suburban Conference rival Lakeville North 9-0 in the Section 1AAAA championship game. The Tigers went into the game knowing they would have to beat North twice in one night to advance to the state tournament, but according to head coach Jon Graff, they were confident in their ability to give the Panthers all they could handle.
After an opening loss to New Prague, Farmington won four straight as they played what Graff described as their best ball of the season. Their pitching was lights out, the defense had tightened up and was making plays and the offense was producing just enough to get the job done. Graff said that his team really came together and never gave up.
"There was a lot of times throughout the season where it didn't go our way, where we lost those doubleheaders, or we had a string of losses, whatever it was, even losing the first game of sections," he said. "But the way that they played for each other, they way that they compete, they play the right way, they genuinely care for each other and I think that allowed us to bounce back and keep playing good, and we played our best ball at the end."
Graff said this year's playoff success was just another step in the program's progress as each year the team advances farther and farther.
"Over the last five years, we've advanced one step further in playoffs every year, so the next step would hopefully be, take that next step into state," he said. "The progression is not a coincidence, every year as you get those younger guys and they mature and become seniors, they want to keep building on the legacy that's being created. So I think we laid a great foundation a number of years ago and we just keep building off of that."
The Tigers just never seemed to be able to find a groove against the Panthers. Junior Brady Bean started on the mound for Farmington and shut down Lakeville North the first two innings, but even at the start the Panthers hit the ball hard but right at Tiger fielders. As the game progressed, errors began to roll in for Farmington and ended up costing them a handful of runs (they committed five for the game). Offensively, stranded base runners were the story for the Tigers even though they did not get their first hit until the sixth inning. Farmington left four runners on base and made two outs on the basepaths.
Lakeville North scored three runs in the bottom of the third, two in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the sixth for their nine runs. Bean pitched 3 ⅓ innings and gave up five runs (three earned) on six hits with one strikeout. He was relieved by junior Nick Savisik, who went 1 ⅓ innings but was pulled after giving up a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Aydan Lewis closed out the game for the Tigers, going the last 1 ⅓ and giving up just one run (not earned) on one hit with a strikeout. Juniors Adam Weed and Gavin Renwick had Farmington's only hits, while seniors Trevor Brettin and Mikey Fredrickson both walked in the game.
The Tigers went 6-12 in the regular season and finished eighth in the SSC. However, they got hot at the end of the regular season, winning four of their last five, before their opening round of sections loss to New Prague 3-2. Farmington went on to win their next four games—2-0 over Lakeville South, 4-2 in a rematch against New Prague, 3-1 in eight innings against Rochester Century and 5-0 over Owatonna—before the Section 1AAAA finals loss.