Posted on Friday, May 18, 2012 by CJ Siewert
The Freeport Black Sox are set to host their Sixth Annual Black Sox Tourney this Friday through Sunday. The Avon Lakers will host the second field for first and second round games. The six other teams invited to this year’s tourney include the Spring Hill Chargers, Belle Plaine Tigers, Opole Bears, Ultimate Snappers of St. Cloud, North St. Paul Roosters and New Market Muskies.
Mother Nature didn’t cooperate for last year’s invitational as six of the ten scheduled games were rained out. The Snappers defeated Spring Hill 5-0, which was called after five innings, while Belle Plaine won in convincing fashion 14-1 over Opole in another five-inning affair. The only other first round game to get underway was Freeport and Avon, as the Black Sox won 5-0 after calling the game through four innings. Opole topped Spring Hill 6-3 in the consolation bracket, but then the rain took over and forced the tournament to completion during the second day.
This weekend’s forecast calls for the possibility of showers Saturday into Sunday, but hopefully an outright champion will be named regardless of the weather. First round match-ups are as follows:
Freeport vs. Spring Hill – Friday, 6:30 p.m. at Freeport
Belle Plaine vs. Opole – Saturday, 11:00 a.m. at Freeport
Avon vs. St. Cloud – Friday, 6:30 p.m. at Avon
North St. Paul vs. New Market – Saturday, 11:00 a.m. at Avon
Freeport, the newest member of the Victory League, has posted a 1-1 record thus far. The Black Sox defeated St. Mathias 8-2 in their season opener, but then fell to Fort Ripley 15-9 the next weekend.
Eric Eveslage leads the team with a .545 average (6-11) and three RBI. Ryan Tschida has a .455 average (5-11) with a team-high three runs, including an RBI. As a team, the Black Sox average is .333 (25-75).
Peter Burg has compiled the most time on the mound with a 1-0 record and 1.71 ERA in seven total innings. Danny Beste has thrown in each game this season with a 5.62 ERA in five and one-third innings. Likely toeing the rubber this weekend will be Mike Frericks, who will be back after completing his sophomore year at Wayne State, or Craig Meyer.
Spring Hill looks to take the series advantage over the Black Sox as the two clubs have split their last two meetings. The Stearns County League member has consistently been at the top of the League by using mainly local products of Melrose, like Freeport.
“It's always fun for us to play Spring Hill as they are a top team in the Stearns County League and a team of mostly Melrose graduates like our team,” Erik Freeman of Freeport said. “A lot of us are friends and have played with guys from Spring Hill at some point.”
River Valley League Central stronghold Belle Plaine comes in with a 2-1 record after claiming two victories against St. Benedict (9-4) and Winthrop (9-1) to open the season before falling to Chaska 12-1 Wednesday.
Shawn Larson leads the Tigers at the plate with a .462 average, including a team-high three extra-base hits. Matt Schultz has started in two games with a .444 average and a team-high four RBI.
Brad Lawson collected a win in first appearance on the mound this season. Lawson went seven and two-thirds innings against Winthrop, allowing just one run on four hits with four strikeouts and three free passes. Shane Hofmann took the hill in the season opening victory at St. Benedict with one earned run on five hits in four innings of work. Hofmann is projected to start Saturday against Opole and Lawson will likely toss the ensuing match-up.
The Tigers made quick work of Opole in last year’s tourney, scoring 14 runs in four innings before the game was called due to rain. All but one starter for Belle Plaine recorded a hit. Travis Latzke paced the team, going 2-for-3 with a double, hit-by-pitch, stolen base and four runs scored.
New Market, member of the Dakota Rice Scott League, enters the tournament with a 3-1 record. The Muskies dropped their season opener to Randolph 4-2 on April 21, but bounced back with three consecutive victories over Prior Lake (3-0), St. Benedict (7-0) and Shakopee (4-3).
Tyler Bergstrom and Nick Rost lead the team with six hits apiece, having played in all four games. Bergstrom has a .462 batting average with a team-leading four RBI, while Rost is at .429 and leads the squad with five runs scored.
Dusty Becklus has started on the hill in three games this season with a 1-1 record. Becklus has logged 17 innings with 15 strikeouts, eight walks and a 2.65 ERA. Bergstrom has been the early No. 2 hurler for the Muskies with a 1-0 record and has not allowed an earned run in 13 innings of work.
New Market’s opponent, the Red Roosters, are comprised a college players – current and former – from local institutions Concordia University and Bethel University. The Roosters are Class A out of the Skyline League and look forward to playing outside the metro against quality Class C competition.
Avon will start off the tournament by hosting St. Cloud Friday at 6:30 p.m. Avon enters the tourney at 3-2. Neil Manthe leads the Lakers with a .450 average (9-20) with six runs. Kyle Collins is the early ace of the staff without an earned run allowed in 12 innings of work. He also has 19 strikeouts and one save.
Second round games will be played Saturday at both fields with 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. first pitches. On Sunday, the consolation championship will start at 11:00 a.m., the third place game will begin at 1:30 p.m., while the title match-up will be underway at 4:00 p.m. All of Sunday’s games will be played at Freeport.