ST. CLOUD Although he's a veteran of many state amateur baseball tournaments as a draftee, Leavenworth's Andy Cook experienced a state tournament first on Sunday.
Cook played for his Leavenworth team at the state tournament for the first time in his career, which was making its first state tournament appearance since 1987. Cook got some early run support, held off a late Belle Plaine rally and even added an RBI as the Orioles advanced to the second round of the Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament with a 7-5 win over Belle Plaine Sunday at Joe Faber Field.
The win means Leavenworth will now play New London-Spicer at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Joe Faber Field.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Leavenworth’s Jake Schwartz slides safely under the tag of Belle Plaine shortstop Zach Horning during Leavenworth’s win in the first round of the Class C Amateur Baseball State Tournament Sunday at Faber Field in St. Cloud. Leavenworth won 7-5.
Cook was the winning pitcher for the Orioles. He went all nine innings and allowed 11 hits. He walked three and struck out three.
"It feels great and it was an obvious team effort," Cook said. "They put up runs behind me. Our defense was a little shaky right away but they settled in and made some key plays. To come up with your own team, it's the first time since the late '80s, to win a game feels awesome."
While Cook was effective on the mound and kept his team in the game, Belle Plaine starter Ryan Diers did the exact opposite. He lasted only 1/3 of an inning, walking four and giving up three first-inning runs.
"We got on them early, their pitcher struggled to throw strikes and I think it just takes the jitters out," Cook said.
The Orioles struck first thanks to Diers' wildness and grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. But the Tigers battled back and scored twice in the bottom of the first to climb to within one.
Cook later gave his team a 4-2 lead with a single to left field that scored Derek Skovbroten. Leavenworth scored another run in the fifth, this time on an RBI single by John Cook.
After scoring two runs in the fifth, the Tigers were able to tie the game in the sixth and it looked like they had them momentum at that point.
But the Orioles responded in the top of the seventh. Schwartz doubled to score Briar Braulick and Schwartz later scored on John Cook's second RBI of the game.
Offensively for the Orioles, Schwartz scored two runs and drove in two runs. John Cook had two hits and two RBI.
With a two-run lead late, Andy Cook wanted to finish what he started.
"I was a little tired, but I wanted the ball, and I was gonna throw the ball as hard as I could and hopefully win the game," he said.