Sleepy Eye wins again
ESSIG – Jon Kopacek did a little bit of everything in Sleepy Eye’s Junior Upper Midwest Classic 10-3 victory over Wayzata.
The pitcher picked up the win, going the distance with three strikeouts and two walks, while allowing three runs on seven hits. Kopacek also contributed on offense with a double, a triple, three RBIs, and two runs by his courtesy runner.
“[Kopacek] is a strike thrower,” Manager Dusty Mangen said. “He gets a good downward angle on his balls. It’s tough to square him up. He throws strikes and hits spots and changes speeds. Really, that’s all you really need to be effective.”
Sleepy Eye came out ready to play. With two runners already on, Kopacek got the scoring going with a two run double. Courtesy runner Jared Rothmeier scored on an error for the third run of the inning.
Wayzata got three of its seven hits in the top of the second. Its only run of the inning came on an RBI double from Billy Langer.
Sleepy Eye continued its hot hitting in the bottom of the second. The first two runs of the inning came when Matt Berkner hit a home run over the left field fence. Lucas Heidersheidt drove in two more with a double to put Sleepy Eye up 7-1 after two.
“The thing about our lineup is one through nine, we want to keep attacking. I don’t think there’s really an easy out in our lineup,” Mangen said. “I think the top of the lineup really showed today that they can drive the ball, hit with power, and all that stuff. The top, they did a good job of clutch hitting and producing for us.”
Kopacek got plenty of help from his defense throughout the game. Berkner ran forward to make a diving catch in shallow center field to finish off a one, two, three third inning for Sleepy Eye.
“Our defense has been pretty solid all year, and that showed again today where we make the routine plays but we’ll make the difficult plays too,” Mangen said. “And that makes a big difference with the confidence of a pitcher. He knows that he can throw strikes and get hit, and he knows the defense is going to make the plays behind him.”
Kopacek’s triple drove in Brandon Helget from first for his third run of the game in the fourth inning. The triple also set up Heidersheidt for his third RBI of the game.
Wayzata put up another run in the fifth inning with two doubles in the inning.
Berkner added his third RBI in the fifth when he scored Carter Krzmarzick on a single. The inning ended abruptly when Mike Bohlke made a diving catch and tagged first for the unassisted double play.
Wayzata added a run in the seventh before left fielder Heidersheidt showed his defense with a diving catch to his left for the second out. The game fittingly ended with the ball in Kopacek’s glove after he caught a pop-up for the third out.
Sleepy Eye will play two games today at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Upper Midwest Classic. It faces Maple Grove in the early game and Hutchinson in the afternoon, both at Mueller Park.