Twice in need of a run, Forest Lake turned to an almost forgotten play: The squeeze bunt.
It worked both times, most notably to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth-inning to lift the Rangers to a 6-5 victory over Maple Grove.
The Crimson took a 5-4 lead in the top of the inning on a throwing error by third baseman Tyler Boesel. But Forest Lake responded by getting its first two runners on base and in scoring position after a miscue by the Maple Grove shortstop.
Boesel redeemed himself with a sacrifice fly to center, tying the game 5-5. Jake Wensmann followed with a squeeze bunt that scored Jared Henderson from third with the game-winner.
“That’s kind of our go-to play,” Forest Lake coach Tal Gravelle said. “We work hard on it and Jake’s a good bunter. We thought ‘Let’s put a little pressure on the defense here.’ That was our approach.”
Maple Grove took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third, but Forest Lake responded when Cam Kline socked a three-run homer to left, cutting the lead to one.
“The turning point was Cam Kline hitting a three-run homer,” Gravelle said. “Our dobbers were down and all of a sudden, boom! One swing gets you back in the game.”
Forest Lake tied the game in the next inning, also on a squeeze bunt, setting up the extra-inning finish.
“Our motto these past couple of weeks has been ‘Refuse to Lose,’” said Kline, who pitched 7 2/3 innings for the Rangers. “Ever since, we’ve been doing exactly that. We’re doing whatever it takes to battle back.”
Forest Lake rallied twice to defeat Maple Grove 6-5 in eight innings in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
Maple Grove took a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth on a throwing error by Forest Lake. But the Rangers, who battled back from a 4-0 deficit early in the game, got two runners on base in the bottom of the inning and both scored. The game-winning run came on a squeeze bunt by Jake Wensmann that scored Jared Henderson from third base.
Check back later for more on the game.