Polars power past Titans, 10-2

North High junior Jim Bothwell (7) attempts a double play, making the force out at second base on Tartan junior Jacob Zwak (23). The Polars won 10-2 at Tartan May 15. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
North High junior Jim Bothwell (7) attempts a double play, making the force out at second base on Tartan junior Jacob Zwak (23). The Polars won 10-2 at Tartan May 15. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Tartan senior Eric Reddy (19) tags out North High junior Joey Lenart (19) on a steal attempt. The Titans lost to the Polars 10-2 at home May 15. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Tartan senior Eric Reddy (19) tags out North High junior Joey Lenart (19) on a steal attempt. The Titans lost to the Polars 10-2 at home May 15. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

The North High baseball team has been a juggernaut in the Metro East Conference this spring, and that was never more true than when the Polars faced the Tartan Titans Friday, May 15.

It was the final game of the regular season prior to the start of Section 4, Class AAA playoffs on Thursday, May 21.

It also was an important game for the visiting Polars. A victory over their School District 622 rivals would ensure a tie with Mahtomedi for the Metro East Conference baseball championship.

The game was up for grabs until the top of the fourth inning when senior Brendon Herold unloaded a two-RBI shot over the right centerfield fence for a 2-0 North lead.

The Polars went on to add to that total and finished with a 10-2 win.

In his post-game comments, North coach Ron Adams said, "It was a nice win, especially here. As everybody knows, this is not my favorite ballpark, but today we got it done.

"We started out slow, but then we bunched a few hits. Gus [Varland] kept us in there with his pitching.

"We played some good defense and had a couple of double plays to get us out of trouble. It was a good win for us, and now we get to share the championship. That is always nice."

North ended the season 14-2 in the MEC and tied with Mahtomedi, which handed St. Thomas Academy a 5-1 loss last week.

Tartan head coach Curt Russell said, "It was a tough game. Our kid [Jacob Zwak] threw well through four innings. Gus [Varland] didn't throw great today, but he was able to keep us off balance.

"We didn't put the ball in play very often. Zwak left one [pitch] up and they put one out of the yard. Before you knew it, it was 2-zip, 3-zip and 4-zip, and the wind got taken out of our sails.

"North is a good club. The key for them is they pitch well. That will be very important for them in the upcoming playoffs," Russell added.

In the top of the fourth, Jim Bothwell got on base with a one-out single up the middle. Herold then launched a 328-foot shot over the fence for a two-RBI home run.

The Polars put the winning runs on the board in the fifth. Joey Lenart led off with a single to right field, but was caught stealing second. Pinch hitter Elvin Baez worked a walk in front of Sam Farley's double into the right center field gap.

Sam Blees filled the bases the hard way when he was thumped by a pitch. Jake Steckler then lashed a shot to left that scored Baez with the 3-0 game-winner. Jim Bothwell knocked a single into left and Farley came home. With the bases still loaded, Herold picked up a hard RBI when he was struck by a pitch and Blees scored. An infield putout scored Steckler, and the Polars were suddenly on top 6-0.

In the bottom of the sixth the Titans finally were able to score a couple of runs. Lucas Pasiuk slammed a single into right, and Mitchell Perkins-Cozatt belted an RBI double into left center field.  An infield double play allowed Cozatt to reach third, and he came home on a wild pitch for Tartan's second run.  

In the top of the seventh the Polars continued their run parade. Blees led off with a single through the left-side hole, and Steckler was nailed by a pitch.

A left-side error allowed Bothwell to reach first, and the bases were filled. Herold — he was 2-for-2 with four RBI and scored two runs- banged a two-RBI single into right. Dylan Foote followed with a two-RBI single into deep centerfield, and North had the 10-2 win and a share of the conference championship.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7820.
 

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