The Brainerd Legion team ended its season Thursday night in a sloppy 20-17 loss to Park Rapids.
After losing its first game of the day to Little Falls, Brainerd needed to defeat Park Rapids later to capture the North Subdistrict's No. 2 seed in next week's district playoffs.
The story of the game for both teams proved to be lapses in the field and a lack of control by both teams' pitchers.
Park Rapids scored 20 runs on just eight hits and was aided by 15 walks, three hit batters and six Brainerd errors.
Brainerd managed 17 runs on 15 hits, eight walks, one hit batter and four Park Rapids errors.
Brett Kramer had a standout offensive game for Brainerd, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs, three runs and two doubles. Trevor Howard had three hits, including two doubles, and Rob Veith scored four runs to go along with two hits.
Seth Helland took the loss after pitching two-plus innings of solid relief as Brainerd came back from an 11-3 deficit to take a 14-13 lead on Howard's sacrifice fly.
Park Rapids answered with seven runs in the next two innings to take a 20-13 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
Despite a three-run surge to begin the home half of the ninth, Brainerd did not have enough left in the tank offensively to overcome the six-run lead.
The length of the nine-inning game left both teams shorthanded on the mound and at the plate by the time the final innings began.
"This was the definition of running out of players and pitching," Brainerd coach Ray Austin said. "We had three injuries coming in that really hurt and that really caught up with us by the end of the game. We just ran out of pitching by the end. We used every pitcher we had today in the two games and probably overused a couple but that's what happens.
"It was a good season. We had a group of good kids and everyone came and played hard the way we asked them to. It's not the way you want to end your season obviously but we will look forward to next year."
Despite falling behind 2-0 after a first-inning two-run home run by Billy Sather and not collecting a hit until the fourth, Little Falls used a nine-run fifth to fly past Brainerd.
In the big inning the Flyers pounded nine hits to score their nine runs off three Brainerd pitchers, highlighted by two hits and two runs apiece for Logan Kalis and Andrew Lange, who helped his cause with a double in the inning.
Ben Hanowski provided the bulk of the offensive fireworks for Little Falls as he collected three hits to go along with four RBIs and a run scored.
Flyers coach Chad Kaddatz said the slow start and explosive fifth were representative of the way his team has played this season.
"Probably the key in the game was when Mitch LeBlanc got I think it was our first hit of the game," Kaddatz said. "We scored a couple to tie it up 2-2. With this team we either get double-digit hits or we are scrambling to get one or two. Once they get going though it just explodes."
Austin commented on the Flyers big bats in addition to Lange's pitching supremacy over his team this season.
"They had nine hits in that fifth inning and they hit the ball well all game," he said. "Tip your hat to them. They have beat us soundly three times this year. They are a good team.
"That is the third win that Lange has got against us and he throws pretty well. Of course when you get a lead from nine runs in one inning it makes it a little easier."
Lange pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits and holding Brainerd bats in check after Sather's home run.
Kramer and Sather each managed two hits for Brainerd.
In addition to his timely fourth-inning double, LeBlanc also scored three runs for Little Falls. Riley Hirsch and Joe Rydeen also had doubles in the win.
Park Rapids 210 810 134 - 20 8 4
Brainerd 301 331 303 - 17 15 6
Brainerd: Trevor Howard, Travis Whirley (4), Seth Helland (5), Josh Haberman (8), Brett Kramer (9).
WP: Tom Juberian. LP: Heland.
2B: Brd Kramer 2, Howard 2; PR Kevin Vaadeland
3B: Brd Cody Stange
Brainerd 200 000 0 - 2 7 2
Little Falls 002 291 X - 14 14 1
Brainerd: Bill Sather, Nick Anderson (5), Josh Haberman (5) and Haberman, Seth Helland
Little Falls: Andrew Lange and Riley Hirsch
WP: Lange. LP: Sather.
2B: LF Joe Rydeen, Mitch LeBlanc, Hirsch, Lange
HR: Brd Sather
Next: No. 1 Little Falls in District 6 tournament at Bemidji.
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