The Dragons have ended a successful spring season after an opening round playoff loss in Section 7AA. Pine City finished with a 10-10 record and had some memorable moments throughout the spring. One of those moments came in their opening round playoff loss. Pine City nearly pulled off an improbable comeback against Moose Lake-Willow River, but in the end, the Dragons came up just short.
Moose Lake-Willow River 11, Pine City 10
Pine City jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second but would fall behind 10-3 heading into the sixth. With their season on the line, the Dragons responded with a whopping seven runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game up 10-10. The rally came courtesy of RBI singles from Lukas Kemen, Jake Lunceford, Jake Rademacher and Nick Hansmann as Pine City was able to string together a number of two-out hits in a row.
“Our playoff game was a back and forth contest,” said head coach Monty Petersen. “We started out playing well before [ML-WR] went ahead 10-3 in the bottom of the fifth. At that point, it would have been easy for our team to give up, but instead we battled back. Our team showed great character by continuing to compete. Overall, we came up short in the playoff game but battled hard throughout.”
After knotting things up at 10 in the top of the sixth, the home team Rebels would get the win in the bottom of the seventh on a bases loaded walk. Despite a disappointing ending to the final game, there was still much to feel good about.
“For the season as a whole,” said Petersen, “we won 10 games and increased our win total from seven last year. We finished third in the conference and earned the #5 seed in the section (#6 last year). We had a number of freshmen and sophomores step into starting positions and contribute this season. They gained valuable experience that we will use as a building block moving forward.”
Pine City will lose just three seniors, but all were major contributors. Lunceford, Rademacher and Isaiah Gonyea were also multi-sport athletes with winning track records in other sports.
“Our seniors provided leadership on and off the field,” added Petersen. “Those three were our captains this season. They batted in the top of our order all season. They all started for our team multiple seasons. Their contributions will be greatly missed.”
Pine City won just four games two seasons in a row and continues to trend in the right direction under Petersen. The second year coach has guided the team to more wins in each of the past two seasons than the team had seen the year before. Continued improvement is a sign that the program is headed in the right direction. Although a playoff win would have been nice, the Dragons put up a heck of a fight.