Carlton’s Trent Bagne was feeling the heat when he came up to bat with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning in the Bulldogs' Section 7A tournament game against Barnum Tuesday, June 1, in Esko.
Carlton’s Bennett Hille had walked to start the eighth and moved to third after a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Noah Olsen. After a strikeout by Brody Vernon, the Bulldogs looked to the junior right fielder at the bottom of the order to get Hille home.
“I felt a lot of pressure going into it,” Bagne said. “But I just saw the pitch come down the middle, and I figured it was my pitch.”
Bagne slapped the ball into shallow right field, sending Hille to home plate and ending Barnum’s season with a 5-4 win.
The Bombers jumped out to a one-run lead after sophomore Caleb Hautajarvi hit a triple to lead off the game and Anson Vargo drove him home with the first of his two RBIs in the game. Vargo extended the lead in the third inning when he drove home Jacob Hultgren with his second hit of the day.
Carlton trailed 3-1 in the fourth inning when the Bulldog hitters started to figure out Hautajarvi’s pitches. Kyle Siiter, Aaron Ermatinger and Kristian Hermann all picked up RBIs to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.
The Bombers answered in the top of the fifth when J.J. Stevens scored on a throwing error by Carlton.
“It was kind of classic baseball game,” Carlton coach Ryan Schmidt said. “Both teams played pretty well; we both made a few mistakes here and there, and both of us capitalized on the mistakes when they made them.”
Schmidt was also impressed with Hermann’s performance on the mound. The senior pitched all eight innings, recording nine strikeouts in the effort. Schmidt said Hermann struggled hitting the strike zone with his fastball, but was able to keep Bomber hitters guessing with his breaking balls.
“He’s a veteran; he’s been doing it since he was a freshman and has pitched in big games before,” Schmidt said. “I think that really was the little bit of an advantage that we needed.”
Barnum had plenty of opportunities to win the game, according to coach Tony Bender, but they couldn’t cash in when those chances came.
“We had runners in scoring position, runners on base, and we just didn’t seem to have the timely hit,” Bender said. “That’s kind of the story of our season for us. We made some mistakes at certain times, and it cost us a couple runs.”
The Bombers’ season ended on a sour note with a heartbreaking loss, but with just two seniors on the roster, Barnum (5-10) could be a section contender in a year or two. Barnum had two eighth-graders playing varsity this year, and Hautajarvi was “lights out” hitting and pitching this season, according to Bender.
Carlton lost the second game of the day to top-seeded South Ridge 11-1 in five innings.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” Schmidt said. “That second game is tough after eight innings the first game and you’re playing a team like South Ridge that has a lot of depth.”
Carlton (9-7) will face the loser between Nashwauk-Keewatin and North Woods at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 3, in Proctor.
Carlton 5, Barnum 4, eight innings
WP: Kristian Hermann 8IP, 4R, 9K. LP: Henry Dammer 2.1IP, R, K. C: Hermann 2x4, RBI; Kyle Siiter 1x2, 2R, RBI. B: Anson Vargo 3x4 2RBI; Caleb Hautajarvi 3x4, R, RBI.
South Ridge 11, Carlton 1, five innings
WP: Wyatt Olson 5IP, H, R, 5K. LP: Bennett Hille 4IP, 4H, 8R, 3K. SR: Jaxson Bennett 3x4, 2R, 4RBI; Josiah DeLoach 1x3, 3R; Aaron Bennett 1x2, HR, 3RBI. C: Kristian Hermann RBI; Aaron Ermatinger 1x2.