(article from NYA Times)

The Young America Cardinals State Tournament run came to a very familiar end on Saturday, at the hands of the Avon Lakers and their starting pitcher, Kyle Collins. Two years ago, YA made it to State and played the Hampton Cardinals. They were a slightly unknown team, mostly made of some young players and were riding the arm of a former class AA minor league pitcher. In that case, it was Keith Myers, a draftee from Cannon Falls, who pitched AA ball for the Dodgers. This year, they met their maker in Collins, who pitched AA ball for the Cleveland Indians and was a top pitcher at San Diego State. Avon themselves hadn’t made State since 2004 and looked basically like a new crop of young, athletic kids.

            Nik Franck took the mound for YA, who himself has a 4-1 State Tournament record including a State Tournament Championship when drafted in 2007 by Plato, and looked to be a worthy matchup. However, Collins showed his class AA stuff as he dominated the Cardinal offense, striking out eight batters in the first five innings, allowing only two hits. Franck, is more of a pitch to contact guy who needs a big corner from the ump and solid defense behind him to put up a lot of zeros on the board. Avon was ready for the task as they knocked Franck out of the game early in the sixth inning, with nine hits, four of them going for extra bases. At times it seemed Franck had the Avon sticks flustered and out of answers with his barrage of junk pitching. Other times they were all over him like flies on a rib roast, connecting hard on anything coming straight and over the plate.

            In the sixth, Adam Kostecka relieved Franck, already in a three run hole. This was Kostecka’s first state appearance, so when he entered a bit shaky and walked the first three batters, it was something that wasn’t out of the ordinary for that situation, no matter the pitcher. Kostecka got out of a bases loaded jam later in the sixth using a big strikeout and infield popup to get his defense off the field. However, Avon put two more runs across prior to those outs, leaving that inning with a five run lead.

            Avon would add another run in the seventh, and eventually the Cardinals would start a rally in the eighth. Collins finally hit the wall and needed relief after walking three of the fist four batters in the eighth. His replacement was a southpaw draftee from Freeport. With the bases loaded, Chet Maschke kept the rally in tact with an infield single, finally giving YA a run on the board. Shortly after, Brandon Stender connected with a RBI single. But on that play, Maschke got a little too aggressive with his base running and which got Aaron Cook tagged out in a messy situation, ending that threat. In the ninth, the Freeport lefty easily dispatched the Cardinals in order, striking out all three batters he faced.

            Many fans look back at the region seeding game last Saturday against Winsted, thinking if they won that game and maybe getting a slightly weaker team, possibly the outcome would be different. But it is what it is and the Cardinals will be watching a little early than they wanted, but still played much later into the year than many other teams in the MN.

As for the rest of they Crow teams in State, they went two for three on the weekend, with Waconia defeating Stark and Winsted beating Jackson. Both will move on to play next weekend, along with Green Isle who received a first round bye.

            The Cardinals again had a huge outpouring of support not only at State, but all year long. YA finished with their best regular season record (23-11 overall, 15-6 in the Crow) since 2007 (24-9 overall, 12-3 in the Crow) and only lost to one team this year with a record lower than their own. 

            A couple of veterans have said their goodbyes to the club already, as Bobby Kraemer and Franck put a combined thirty four years of play to rest.

            But, some very encouraging signs for next year came this season, with outstanding growth seen in a few of the younger players on the team. Wes Willemsen and Adam Ernst both made it hard for the coach to take either one of them out of the lineup, as they mainly platooned at second base all year, flexing their skills with both the bat and the glove. Keyth Hendricks, once seen as a fairly competent backup for regular catcher Brandon Stender, played his way into the regular starting job, catching all the big games for YA down the stretch. Logan Harms, while not seeing a lot of playing time this year, showed a great deal of maturity on the bench and looks like someone the Cardinals can rely on in the future. Tanner Kohls will get to hone his abilities another year at Mesabi College in Ely, and will definitely be in the hunt for the centerfield job vacated by Kraemer.

            The Cardinals would like to send another thanks to everyone who supported their club this summer and especially during the Region 7C tournament. YA’s accomplishments on the field are so much sweeter because they have such great fans to share those moments with.

Cardinals claim the 4th seed
       Both Winsted and YA looked very satisfied to just be playing in state and didn't really put on the best show for the crowd of 384 on Saturday. Eventually, the YA defense that had been so firm lately showed some holes towards the end of the game and Winsted held strong for the win.
       Winsted jumped out to a early 2 run lead when a fielded bunt was thrown into right field allowing 1 Wildcat run. A single by Brennen Gilyard drove in the other. But YA came right back to take the lead in the bottom of the 2nd. Nik Franck hit a solo homer to lead off the inning and Chet Maschke followed later in the inning with a 2 run double.
        Winsted grabbed it right back in the top of the 3rd, when Scotty Theissen delivered a 2 run single. It would stay that way until YA tied it up in the 6th, when Aaron Cook walked with the bases loaded. Then YA scored 3 in the 7th, seemily grabbing a firm hold on the lead. The big hit there came from Adam Esselmann, a 2 run single. 
         But that is when the Cardinal D fell off the map. A big error, which could have started a double play, led 1 runner scoreing and was the followed up with a Cullen Schultz 2 run single. The game went into the 9th, tied at 7. 
         In the 9th, 2 more Cardinal errors gave Scotty Theissen the based loaded and he came thru again with his 2nd 2 run single of the game, giving Winsted a 9-7 lead.
         YA had a little fight in the bottom of 9. Nik Franck hit another solo homer, with 1 out. The Cardinals would have the bases loaded with 2 outs, but were not able to cash in with a game winner. 

         YA will now play in St Cloud on Saturday at 5:30 at Joe Faber Field in the St Cloud Baseball Complex. To get there, take Hwy 15 north. A couple miles north of the Hwy 23 crossing, turn left on Veterans Drive. The complex will be on your left.
          YA's 1 round opponent will be the Avon Lakers, the 2nd seed out of region 8. Please see details and info for the state tournament at this link:  http://www.mnbaseball.org/StateTourney/BCTourney and http://www.stcloudmac.com/stateamateur.html

         For more info on the Avon Lakers, their website is:  http://www.avonlakers.com/lakers/. Avon claimed the region 8C 2nd seed by beating Freeport, Lastrup and Nisswa, before being beaten 9-0 in the region 8 championship game by the Sobieski Skis.

Cardinals going to State!
       Back in the 2010 regions, it was Adam Kostecka who saved the day, starting in place of the original starting pitcher, Troy Kohls, who came ill with heat stress before the game. This time, it was Kostecka who needed rescuing, after he came up lame in the 1st inning with a leg injury. He would gut out 3 innings not allowing a run, and then it was Darran Greene's turn to play the hero. Greene finished the game pitching nearly flawless relief, earning the win.
       Chet Maschke had himself a monster game and it started in the 1st with a leadoff double. He would later score on a groundout by Brandon Stender.
         YA got their 2nd run, which was huge at the time, on a wild pitch. The game was locked up at 2-0 until the 6th, when YA blew the doors off.
         Stender and Clint Aretz led off the 6th with walks and both were driven home on a big time clutch double from Bobby Kraemer, giving YA a 4-0 lead. After a couple more batters reached, Maschke's monster game came to fruition, when he blasted a grand slam homer to give YA a 9 run lead. Adam Esselmann, who has seen limited playing time this year, came thru a bit later in the same inning with a 2 run single, putting the 10 run rule into effect.
          With the win, YA has punched their ticket into the State Tournament in St. Cloud starting next weekend. They will also play Winsted on Saturday at 4pm in a seeding game. The loser will claim the 4th seed and the winner will play the loser of the GI/Waconia game (being played at 1pm) following the 4pm game.

Cardinals play 1 game for a state birth!
     YA will play Watertown on Friday Aug 10th at 8pm, the winner goes to state and the loser gets his hunting stuff in order. Come on all you in Cardinal Nation, get out and support the Cardinals!! Lets set a single day region attendance record!! Get loud and crazy and scare the living snot out of Watertown Friday night.
     The Cardinals lost to Tony Kley and the Winsteders on Friday night, by a score of 5-2. YA just plain got beat. Wes Willemsen had a nice 2 run double early, but that was about it for the YA offense.
     But YA stayed alive, eliminating Glencoe from the regions with a 7-0 win. Kostecka threw his 2nd complete game shutout in a row, allowing 3 hits this game. That makes 0 runs and 5 hits allowed in his past 18 innings pitched. Nik Franck hit a 2 run homer in the first and Jon Werner roped an RBI single in the 2nd, all helping YA to nail down a 6-0 lead early.

Another great battle between the 2 feathered teams of the south, but YA pulls out another thiller, with a 2 run single in the 7th, to beat Mike Mueller and the Hawks 2-0. YA moves onto the region 7C tourney as a #3 seed.
Kostecka and Mueller locks horns for a great pitcher duel. Kostecka finished 8 and 2/3 innings allowing just 1 hit. Sam Anderson finished off the game for the save. Mueller allowed only 3 hits in 8 innings, but the 2 hits and 1 walk in the 7th is what got him. Franck delivered the big blow for the Cardinals with a 1 out, 2 run single.

Player of the year (Jul 16/14)

Eileen Braun

Young America's biggest fan, Eileen's memory will always be present at Wilkommen Park

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