Sometimes when it rains, it pours.
That's what the Central Lakes College Raiders baseball team found out Wednesday when it opened North Division play against the Itasca Community College Vikings.
The Vikings returned several players from last year's state runner-up team, and it showed.
In two games the Vikings poured 34 hits on CLC, including three home runs and seven doubles. The result was two lopsided losses for the Raiders, 13-2 and 12-1.
Itasca's pitching staff was equally impressive, allowing CLC six total hits.
"Itasca is probably one of the top two or three teams in the state," Raiders coach Warren Mertens said. "Anybody that gets 34 hits, you're going to win ballgames.
"We made a lot of young mistakes. Our pitchers threw fine, we just have to get ahead in the count and keep the ball down. We were bringing it right in their wheelhouse where they can do some damage.
"I thought we'd do better so I'm a little disappointed in that respect. I thought we'd give them some games."
Itasca scored three runs in the first inning on five hits and added four runs in the third on six hits.
In the bottom of the third, CLC put together a rally as Dan Saehr and Justin Kolling scored for the Raiders.
CLC was looking to do more damage as it loaded the bases with one out. But Mike Baso lined to third baseman Derek Salisbury, who then caught Dave Smith off the bag for the third out to end the inning.
Smith led the Raiders with two hits.
Itasca's Josh Ebnet was 3-for-4 with five RBI and Mark Otterblad added two hits, including a two-run homer and four RBI.
Even though CLC starting pitcher Pete Marjamaa kept Itasca's bats in check the first two innings, it was one swing of Ebnet's bat that gave the Vikings a 3-0 lead as he hit a two-run homer in the third.
CLC cut the lead to two, scoring in the bottom of the third on a Shane Keranen walk and a Kolling single.
But a Saehr strikeout and a Tim Voigt groundout stranded Kolling at third and ended CLC's chance to cut into the lead.
The Vikings put the game away in the fifth as they plated six runs on five hits, highlighted by a Brent Magnason three-run homer.
Magnason finished with four hits, four runs and five RBI while Ebnet added three hits, two runs and four RBI.
"It's pretty tough to win with only five or six hits on the day," Mertens said. "We need to improve on some things. One is when we get two strikes we've got to be more defensive, like fouling pitches off or trying to put it in play, instead of taking the big swing."
Despite the losses, Mertens was upbeat about his team's chances this weekend when it hosts four games.
"These two games will help us because we need to get some games under our belts," he said. "We just need our hitters to see some pitchers and get our pitchers to get some throwing in. We need to come back and play well this weekend.
"We just need to catch a little fire and things will start happening. The more pitches we see the better our hitters will be."
Itasca 304 204 -- 13 18 0
Central Lakes 002 000 -- 2 3 1
CLC -- Dustin Burkman, Tom Stevens (3), Nick Metteer (6). ICC -- Mike Gebhart, Adam West (6). WP -- Gebhart. LP -- Burkman. HR -- ICC (Mark Otterblad).
Itasca 102 060 3 -- 12 16 1
Central Lakes 001 000 0 -- 1 3 2
CLC -- Pete Marjamaa, Sam Bandow (5) Dave Smith (6), Dan Stenerjoem (7), Jon Reis (7). ICC -- Ryan Theros, Chris White (6). WP -- Theros. LP -- Marjamaa. HR -- ICC (Josh Ebnet, Brent Magnason). Conference -- CLC 0-2. Overall -- CLC 0-5. Next game -- CLC hosts Vermilion 1 p.m. Saturday at Mills Field.
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