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Forum staff reports, Published June 13 2009

Otters outdueled in final

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – La Crescent scored five runs in the first three innings and held off a rally by Fergus Falls to claim the Minnesota, Class 2A state high school boys baseball title Friday at Dick Putz Field.

The Otters outhit the Lancers 11-7, but couldn’t overcome the four-run deficit.

Missed opportunities hurt Fergus Falls in the loss. The Otters had three hits in the first inning but only plated one run. They later loaded the bases in the third inning but failed to score.

Despite the outcome of Friday’s final, Fergus Falls head coach Mark Aho was proud of his team’s second-place finish.

“Right now, of course, everyone’s disappointed,” Aho said. “After the hurt goes away, our guys are going to realize what they really accomplished.”

Fergus Falls cut La Crescent’s lead to 5-3 with a two-run fifth inning but couldn’t muster any more runs the rest of the way.

Center fielder Jake Heck relieved Otters starter Nic Johnson in the third inning and pitched 3 1/3 hitless innings to silence the Lancers.

“He came in and shut them down and kept us into the ball game and gave us a chance to win it,” Aho said of Heck’s performance.

Heck and Matt Mithaugen were named to the 2A all-tournament team.

But Aho pointed to the entire team’s performance.

“It’s really a team effort. … The whole team got us here and the whole team got us into the finals,” Aho said.

Heck had three hits for Fergus Falls on Friday. Mithaugen and Alex Hensch had two hits apiece.

The Otters entered the state tournament with a 14-11 record but advanced to the final with two relatively easy victories on Thursday.

“The kids played some good baseball to get this far,” Aho said.

Fergus Falls 100 020 0–3 11 1

La Crescent 212 000 x–5 7 0

Johnson, Heck (3) and Mithaugen. Grant, Verthein (7) and Traxler. W–Grant (7-1). L–Johnson (3-4). S–Verthein.