In the first inning of their second game Wednesday night, Maple Grove's Karl Sorenson celebrated his first inning triple that gave the Crimson a 1-0 lead. Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune
By all accounts last weekend was an extremely tough one for metro No. 1-ranked Maple Grove. After going unbeaten through the entire regular season, the Crimson took its first major lump last Friday, falling to Coon Rapids in the fourth round of the 5AAA playoffs.
But by Wednesday, the disappointment had translated to fuel and Maple Grove beat Coon Rapids in consecutive games at Midway Stadium to win the section title and gain a state tournament berth.
“This has been our goal from day 1 of practice and now we’re here,” said a grinning Karl Sorensen after receiving his trophy on field.
Added coach Darby Carlson: “Their experience in the loss … they got a taste of it and I think it kind of motivated them. We knew we couldn’t afford to be messing around.”
They certainly didn’t.
The Crimson came out with a vengeance in the first inning of the eventual 9-2 game one win, stinging Coon Rapids No. 1 pitcher Logan Shore for five solid hits and converting them into five runs.
“You go in the dugout and it was like everybody knew they were going to get a hit,” Sorensen said. “They put out their ace and we pounded the ball.”
Shore had an uncharacteristically bad night, giving up six runs in four innings and grounding into to two double plays and leaving the bases loaded with a pop-up to second base, and the offense floundered against a solid performance from Maple Grove’s Mitchell Bauer, who did not give up a hit until the third and shut the Cardinals out until the fifth inning.
“It’s hard to make up those runs,” Coon Rapids coach Jerry Coe said.
The second game proved to be more of a back-and-forth slug-fest as the Crimson again led off but were paced by the Cardinals, who answered each run and tied the score in the bottom of the fourth. That’s when memories of the previous weekend came creeping into Sorensen’s head.
“A little bit,” he said. “I’ve been on that for the last two years, about being on the verge. But now’s our time.”
They proved that, adding two runs in the fifth to win 6-4.
“Everyone knows we still have some work to do,” Sorensen said. “We don’t care about section titles – the state title, that’s what we really want.”