After Sunday’s 16-4 thrashing of the Prior Lake Mudcats, the Faribault Lakers now sit tantalizingly close to clinching one of the five byes out of the Dakota-Rice-Scott League playoffs and directly into the Region 3C playoffs.
With three league games remaining, Faribault is 12-7 against DRS opponents, which is good enough for third place among teams that compete in Region 3C. St. Patrick leads the way at 16-4 and Union Hill is a half-game ahead of the Lakers at 12-6.
Behind Faribault is Montgomery (11-8), New Prague (10-8) and Prior Lake (9-9), making Sunday’s victory doubly important in improving the fortunes of the Lakers and harming those of the Mudcats.
Faribault has league games remaining Saturday at St. Benedict (8-11), Wednesday, July 28 against Veseli (2-16) and Sunday, Aug. 1 against Lonsdale (8-11).
If the Lakers win just one of those three games, they’ll clinch a top-five finish and a bye into the region playoffs. The only way for Faribault to not clinch a bye is if it loses all three of its remaining league games and Prior Lake wins all four of its remaining league contests.
Faribault 16, Prior Lake 4
What started as an evenly-weighted slugfest quickly turned into a one-sided affair Sunday in Prior Lake. After both teams scored three runs apiece in the first inning, the Mudcats scored just one more time in the bottom of the seventh.
The Lakers, meanwhile, added three runs in the top of the fourth, one in the top of the fifth, six in the top of the sixth and three in the top of the seventh.
Eight different Faribault players reached base at least twice via a hit or a walk, while Danny Pierce, Mitch Johnson, Nate Rost and Nick Rost all reached three times.
Pierce doubled twice and singled to drive in a total of four runs, Nick Rost singled three times to drive in three runs, Nate Rost doubled, singled and walked, and Johnson singled twice and walked.
Nate Rost started on the mound and allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings.
To make up for that uncharacteristic start, Nick Rost fired 4 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win. He didn’t allow a hit or a walk and struck out seven batters, but was charged with an unearned run in the seventh. Joey Grote recorded the final two outs for Faribault.
Fox 9 spotlight
Faribault next plays Wednesday night at home at Bell Field in a non-league game against the Rochester Royals. While the result won’t have any impact on the DRS standings, it’s a marquee game due to the fact the Lakers and Bell Field are being featured that night on Fox 9’s Town Ball Tour.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., but the broadcast starts from the grandstands at 5 p.m., with live interviews scheduled during the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours.