With a balanced hitting attack, solid defense and steady pitching Stockmen’s Irish won the 2011 Class A Championship at Haddox Field in Bloomington. The Irish scored early and kept the pressure on the whole game defeating a fatigued Lyon’s Pub 9-5.
Nick Bjerken, Nate Koppi, Nick Winecke, Dan Cosgrove and Aaron Thompson all had one RBI for the Irish. Chad Ogden had a double and two singles for three RBI for Stockmen’s. The other Irish run scored on a wild pitch.
Both teams made some exceptional fielding plays. Nick Bjerken turned in a pair of web gems himself. In the top of the fourth inning with the score tied at four, Pub had the bases loaded with two out when Tony Nault hit a shot that looked for sure to be heading toward the right field corner. Bjerken dove to his right, somehow came up with the ball on a short hop and beat Nault to the bag for the third out. Bjerken also fielded a shot with one out and one on in the ninth inning turning a nifty three-six-three double play to start the victory celebration. “He is mostly known for his offense, but today he brought the glove with him and it was a couple of big plays. We definitely needed it and it was awesome,” said manager Dan Cosgrove.
Chris Dent started the game on the mound for Stockmen’s. He lasted the first four, giving way to Grant Schara. Schara threw the next four innings giving up a lone run to earn the win. Big Pat Gornick threw a scoreless ninth to finish it up for the Irish. Dean Johnson was the losing pitcher for Lyon’s Pub.
Dan Miller, the Irish’s centerfielder got a hit again. What makes that special? He has gotten a hit in all 39 games the Irish have played this season. “Miller has been huge all year. He was our regular season MVP,” said Cosgrove.
Stockmen’s Zach Goodwin was awarded the Tournament MVP award. He will be a junior at Concordia, St. Paul next year. “Zach had two huge starts for us—his start before coming into the playoffs he got roughed up—and he came back against a tough St. Louis Park team—he stepped up huge for us and really earned the MVP,” gushed Cosgrove.
“We had a couple of down years—we got some new guys in this year so, everyone, all year, we haven’t had one weakness. Everyone has stepped up when called upon. It seriously is a team” said Cosgrove. We weren’t really swinging the bats earlier, so the pitching and defense was what won it for us,” he continued.
“It was so fun today because the other fans and our fans were having a great time, great ball game, players were playing hard, everyone was having fun and that’s what baseball is all about,” said Bill McGuire, longtime sponsor of Stockmen’s.”
How long has McGuire been involved? “I started the Stockmen’s Irish in 1996 so I guess it’s 16 years,” he said. “This is our first championship and it’s really sweet. We did finish second in 2003, but it’s been a long time coming and I’m so proud of my players that I can’t even tell you.” How come so quiet in the stands today? “I learned over the years to keep my yap shut and just let the players play.”
Lyon’s Pub 100 310 000 5 7 1
Stockmen’s Irish 013 301 10- 9 13 1
Click here for pictures of the Class A final day.
The Class A all-tournament team will be announced later this week.