The Savage Outlaws pulled off the biggest upset in the first round of the Class B state tournament on Aug. 17.
Can the Outlaws do it again?
After knocking off perennial power Cold Spring 5-3, the task doesn’t get any easier for the regular season Cannon Valley League champs. Up next are the defending state champions – the Miesville Mudhens – in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Aug. 23 at TahpahPark in Shakopee at
The Mudhens are 23-13 on the season and earned a 6-4 win over Jordan in the first round.
If the Outlaws (19-10) win, they will play in the semifinals on Sunday, Aug. 24 in Shakopee at against the winner of St. Michael and Mankato. A loss would send Savage to loser’s bracket, which would be played at on Aug. 24 in Shakopee.
The losing teams in the eight, first-round games at state are eliminated, while the final eight teams continue on in a double-elimination format. That format was adopted in 2007, the year after the Outlaws’ only other state appearance when the entire tourney was double elimination.
Cold Spring was making its 21st straight appearance at state and took a 40-4 record into the game with the Outlaws. Cold Spring also boasted one of the state’s top pitchers in Zach Femrite, who was 14-1 on the summer.
However, the Outlaws were not impressed in the do-or-die game.
Savage jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings and Brandon Walczak outdueled Femrite to earn his sixth win.
Walczak pitched seven strong innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs, while striking out eight. He gave way to Jeremy Chlan, who pitched the final two innings to earn the save, striking out five and allowing no runs.
Offensively, the Outlaws were led by Pat Abbe and Chris Steenberg. Both went three for four with Abbe picking up two RBIs and Steenburg getting one.
Meanwhile, Tony Peterson continued to provide big hits for the Outlaws, as he has all season. He hit his sixth home run of the season in the seventh inning to give Savage a 4-2 lead. It was his team-leading 40th RBI.
Peterson was hitting a team-best .416 going into the state tourney.
Meanwhile, Walczak (6-2) hasn’t give up two or more earned runs in his last six starts. He’ll likely be the starter against Miesville, working on six days rest.
Loftus plans to be ready the next time his name is called
By Mike Shaughnessy - Sun newspapers (Created: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 3:01 PM CDT)
Next week Joe Loftus is scheduled to go to Nashville, Tenn., to begin college. By doing so, he likely will postpone his professional baseball career by three years.
This was the plan all along though, and Loftus is excited about the future. In the near term, it will be playing at Vanderbilt University.
Long range? Loftus, a Savage resident and Holy Angels graduate, was considered a potential early round choice in the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
"We heard third or fourth round," he said.
But because he had made it known he expected to go to college rather than sign a professional contract, Loftus dropped to the 29th round and was chosen by the Minnesota Twins with the 876th pick.
Sliding in the draft order wasn't a surprise because "signability" is a key consideration when a major league team makes an early-round selection.
Being drafted by his hometown team caused Loftus to reconsider his plans - but only for a moment.
"I really want to play for the Twins someday," Loftus said Saturday night following the Minnesota Lions High School All-Star Baseball Tournament in Chaska.
"If the money was right, I'd probably sign. But I'm planning to be at college July 1 to take some summer classes."
Loftus said he's realistic. The Twins aren't likely to offer a 29th-round draft choice the kind of money that would entice him to forego college.
So it's probably off to Vanderbilt.
"By the time I'm eligible for the draft again [after his junior year of college], I'll have put on 30-35 pounds," he said. "I'm about 190-195 now. I'll also have more time to work on my hitting."
Loftus played youth baseball in Burnsville for five years before enrolling at Holy Angels as a freshman.
"There were a lot of good experiences. I can't name just one," he said. "The big thing was I got to play high school ball for four years."
He batted .531 with nine home runs as a junior and hit .471 with 10 doubles and 31 RBI as a senior. He had 25 homers in his high school career.
Loftus was 5-1 as a pitcher, with a 0.73 earned-run average and 49 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.
He also was a defensive back, quarterback, punter and kicker for the Stars' football team.
Loftus is expected to concentrate on being a position player at Vanderbilt.
"They're bringing in nine pitchers," he said. "I could get a couple of chances to throw, but personally I'm looking forward to focusing on hitting from now on."
Loftus played for the Savage Outlaws men's amateur team last summer to get some experience hitting with wood bats - something that could prove handy in a few years. He is playing with the Outlaws again this summer, but will have to leave early for school. Loftus said he wants to earn some credits early so he can take a lighter course load during baseball season.
The Commodores aren't slouches in baseball. They won the Southeastern Conference in 2007 and have qualified for the NCAA tournament four of the last five years.
"They had 13 guys drafted in the first five rounds," Loftus said. "From what I understand, only one or two are going to sign [and turn pro]. I think they could be one of the best teams in the country next year."
Bandits at the top of the standings
Thursday, 19 June 2008
Eagan is off to a league-best 6-2 record
by Jason Olson Thisweek Newspapers
Eight games into the Cannon Valley League season and Eagan is at the top of the standings with a 6-2 record.
Manager Eric Swanson, who has played with the team since its inception in 2001, said the quick start was better than he expected.
“It’s hard to say. I pictured our team in the top half of the league, but we’re still only a few games into it,” he said, noting they haven’t faced everyone yet, including Savage.
Apple Valley was only a half game behind the Bandits in the standings, entering Wednesday night.
A league title would be nice for Swanson, but in the bigger picture, getting back to the state tournament is the ultimate goal.
Eagan is a two-time Class B state participant in 2003 and 2004.
As the temperatures rise, slowly, the number of games on the schedule are also going up.
“We’ve been playing only two games a week so far,” he said. “It’ll help our hitters but we’ll see if the pitchers’ arms can hold up.”
Through mid-June, the Bandits have gotten by with using two or three starting pitchers, but the rotation will now include up to six arms on the mound.
Jeremy Liebherr has been the staff ace following his 15-strikeout, complete game shutout performance over Lakeville on June 15. Eagan beat the Athletics 4-0 at LakevilleSouthHigh School. Player changes
The Bandits are succeeding without the services of top pitcher Jeremy Hinderks and leading hitter Andrew Kes. Both are out this season with injuries.
The Bandits welcomed pitcher and first baseman Brandon Paetznick back to the dugout for the first time in two years. He was recovering from arm and knee injuries.
Eagan brought in three new players to the wood-bat league, including Jesse Gale, Derek Dietrich and Chris Arseneau.
Swanson and Dan Norsten are the only remaining players from the 2001 squad.
“I really feel like the older guy now,” said Swanson, who plays in the outfield, while Norsten holds a spot in the infield.
Swanson said the league, set up for college-aged players, also allows former college guys who have a passion for playing America’s pastime as long as they can.
“(It’s) set up for those guys who love baseball,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of turnover from where we started in 2001, but we’ve had a lot of guys play who graduated from EaganHigh School, which is nice.”
Eagan will send its all-stars along with the rest of the Cannon Valley League all-stars to face the Classic Cannon Valley League all-stars in the second annual all-star game July 9 in CannonFalls. The CVL won the inaugural game at Miesville 6-5 in 10 innings. The CVL won the homerun derby before the game 3-2, with both CVL shots coming off the bat of Minnesota Twins draftee Joe Loftus.