Grand Rapids beats Chaska in 11-inning marathon to advance

by Ryan Schuster

With one swing of the bat, designated hitter Bob Kuschel finished what had taken 11 innings and more than three hours to start.
The Grand Rapids junior smacked Chaska relief pitcher Andy Dauwalter’s 2-2 offering over the left-center field wall at Siebert Field on Thursday afternoon, putting the Thunderhawks ahead for good 6-4 in the top of the 11th inning.
“I was just looking to relax and hit the ball,” Kuschel said. “At first I didn’t think it would go out, but when I rounded first, the first base coach told me it was gone.”
Grand Rapids pitcher Ryan Longtin then retired Chaska’s batters without giving up a run to end the three-hour, 20-minute marathon as the Thunderhawks escaped with a 6-4 victory.
Grand Rapids built a 3-0 lead in the first three innings on two RBI doubles by Kyle Krumrei and an RBI double by Clint Gustafson.
Chaska then responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the fourth inning when Borner scored on a Jesse Auseth fielder’s choice groundout, which cut the lead to 3-1.
After Guy Clairmont hit an RBI single in the fifth to stretch the Grand Rapids lead to 4-1, Chaska came back to score three times in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings knotted at four runs apiece.
All three of the runs were unearned as the Thunderhawks committed two costly errors, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter. Nick Granowski, Andy Dauwalter and Duke Dudgeon came in to score for the Hawks in the seventh inning.
The score remained tied until the 11th, when Kuschel provided the heroics.
Grand Rapids reliever Ryan Longtin got the victory, pitching 7 2/3 innings and allowing only three runs. He struck out six and walked four.
Chaska’s Dauwalter was tagged with the loss, after he pitched the final five innings and gave up two runs in the 11th inning on Kuschel’s two-run blast.

In other action:
Brainerd continued its bid to repeat as Class AA state champions at Midway Stadium in St. Paul by beating Grand Rapids 3-0.
Also, Rosemount played its second game of the day at Siebert Field against Chaska and won 17-12.