Baseball: No. 3-A Eagles suffer first loss of season
NEW YORK MILLS — The No. 3-A Eagles baseball team kept their undefeated streak in Park Region Conference play in check with two comfortable wins over Pillager, before suffering the first setback of the year in a 6-5 loss to Section 6A foe Lake Park-Audubon.
The upset-minded Raiders are 5-6 overall and the upset victory was the first in three tries over a Section 6 opponent for LP-A on Thursday. The Raiders are a dangerous team come playoff time with junior star pitcher Mason Swegarden.
“He threw well,” Eagles Head Coach Chris Bushinger said. “We scored five off from him, and they put some timely hitting together.”
New York Mills built a 5-0 lead before a five-inning fourth from the Raiders tied the game. Swegarden scored the game-winner in the fifth inning for the victory. Tucker Skoblik suffered the loss against Swegard and the Raiders.
The Eagles won a tight 2-0 game over Brandon-Evansville to cap off a 3-1 week Friday afternoon. Brandon Kupfer and Nick Kupfer scored the only runs of the game by way of plays at third base. Nick Kupfer reached on an error at third and Brandon Kupfer followed it up with an RBI triple. He scored on a RBI base hit off the bat of Adam Patron. Daniel Kraft pitched six innings in the victory over Brandon-Evansville. Kupfer pitched the seventh inning for the save.
Brandon Kupfer and Tyler Patron pitched complete games in the sweep of Pillager.
The Eagles (11-1, 8-0) have had little resistance from the rest of the conference. In eight Park Region victories, New York Mills is outscoring their opponents by an astounding 91 runs to nine. In four non-conference games, the margin is far less, but still in the Eagles’ favor at 37-16.
Even with the loss, the Eagles remain a top-10 team in the latest QRF standings coming in at No. 7. Menahga, two games back of the Eagles in the conference standings is ranked No. 22. The 15 points of gap in the rankings is much wider than it appears when listed. The Eagles embarrassed the Braves in a doubleheader barrage two weeks ago.
“We are picking it up lately, but we still haven't reached our potential,” Tyler Patron said. “Hopefully, our games are more consistent in the upcoming weeks.”
New York Mills ran the table last season in conference for the second straight year alone atop the PRC standings. They will finish the season with doubleheaders against Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale and Parkers Prairie, both three-win teams in conference, in an attempt to match last year’s mark.
“(We) started out a little rough the first game due to being in the gym for months but now our bats are coming alive and pitching is holding them to a darn low number of runs,” Brandon Kupfer said. “We just need to have fun and keep our heads in it and we will make a good run.”
At this time last season, the Eagles were also ranked No. 3 in the state. They took an undefeated record into the state tournament before losing their only game of the season on a controversial balk call in a 1-0 loss to eventual state champions St. Agnes.
Associated Press Minnesota high school baseball rankings, provided by Let's Play Baseball newspaper...
1. Sleepy Eye St. Mary's
2. Lac qui Parle Valley
3. New York Mills
6. Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial
7. West Lutheran
8. Mankato Loyola
10. New Ulm Cathedral
11. St. Agnes
18. Norman County
19. Windom Area
Also receiving votes: Chatfield, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Wabasso, Sacred Heart, New Life Academy, Deer River, Badger-Greenbush-Middle River, Barnesville, Upsala/Swanville Area, Frazee, Ely, Menagha, Chisholm, Floodwood, Mesabi East