The Minnewaska Area Lakers earned their 10th and 11th wins in the last 12 games with a doubleheader sweep of Morris Area last Tuesday night at Marthaler Field on the MAHS campus.  The Lakers, coached by Joe Alexander, Chris Lence, Jesse Johnson and Andy Goracke, won both games, 5-1 and 4-2, to give the team a 13-1 WCC record and 15-4 overall record this season.  That’s just enough to tie with Montevideo for the 2023 WCC baseball title.

“It was a great evening for Laker baseball and I’m very proud of the guys for coming through with a couple of big wins,” coach Joe Alexander said.  “We’re hoping to continue playing great ball through the section tourney.”

The win was also big for Section 3AA Tourney seeding purposes as the two teams were battling for the fourth seed.  The start of the Section 3AA Tourney was Saturday.  The Lakers were seeded fourth and were set to play fifth-seeded Morris Area at Paynesville.  If Minnewaska loses its first game, it is eliminated, but if it beats the Tigers, it would face top-seeded Paynesville later the same day.

For some history, Minnewaska Area first played baseball in the WCC in 1992 and has now won or tied for the championship 10 times.  The Lakers and Melrose were tied with nine league titles each before Minnewaska Area earned the co-title this spring with Montevideo.

Overall, the Lakers have won WCC baseball titles in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2023.

Waska 5-4, Morris 1-2

The Lakers earned a doubleheader sweep over Morris Area-CA last Tuesday night at home to earn a share of the WCC baseball title.

Minnewaska finished the league schedule with a 13-1 record to match Montevideo’s record of 13-1 to give both teams a share of the WCC title.  During an early-season doubleheader between the two teams, Montevideo won the first game 8-4 before the Lakers won the second, 10-3.

In the first game of the doubleheader with the Tigers last Tuesday, Morris Area scored an unearned run off PJ Johnson in the first inning, but that would be all the scoring for the Tigers for the game.

Minnewaska Area finally got on the board in the fourth inning with a run to tie up the game and then went ahead for good with a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

Johnson earned the win, giving up four hits and two walks over six innings with seven strikeouts.  Levi Johnson put down the Tigers in the seventh during one inning of relief.

Offensively, Dylan Alexander went 2-for-3 with a run, RBI and two stolen bases.  Adding one hit each were Jack Majerus, Alex Panitzke, Noah Jensen and Austin Ballhagen.

“The top of our order is pretty tough with Jack (Majerus), Alex (Panitzke), PJ (Johnson), Dylan (Alexander) and Noah (Jensen),” coach Alexander said.  “Noah is hitting .436 with three homeruns and Dylan is at .391 with one.  The both had an OPS of over 1.000.”

•  In the second game, the Lakers put two runs across in the first and second innings for an early 4-0 lead.

That was more than enough offense for Alex Panitzke, who pitched all seven innings to earn the complete-game win.  He gave up just four hits, two earned runs in the fourth inning and one walk while striking out seven.

Noah Jensen continued his torrid play this spring with a two-run homer in the first inning.  Panitzke had a one-out single and, after a fielder’s choice, Jensen sent an 0-2 pitch over the right-center field fence.

In the second inning, Levi Johnson had a single and Austin Ballhagen had a one-out triple to key another two-run inning.

Jensen and Ballhagen had two hits each to lead the Laker offense, while Panitzke, Dylan Alexander and Levi Johnson each had one hit.

Fittingly, the game ended on a 6-4-3 double play to give the Lakers their 11th win in their last 12 games along with the share of the WCC title. “To end a very close game with a beautiful double play with their biggest offensive threat standing in the on-deck circle, was quite the rush,” coach Alexander said.  

at Waska 5, Morris-CA 1

Morris 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 4 3

Waska (14-4) 0 0 0 1 2 2 x — 5 6 3

HITTING:  WASKA-Dylan Alexander 2-for-3, 1 run, RBI, 2 sb; Jack Majerus 1-for-4, RBI, sb; Alex Panitzke 1-for-4, 1 run, sb; Noah Jensen 1-for-3, RBI; Austin Ballhagen 1-for-3, 1 run; PJ Johnson RBI, sac; Levi Johnson 1 run, 2 bb, sb; Thomas Poegel 1 run, bb, sb . . . MOR-T. Buss 2-for-3

PITCHING:  (ip-h-r-er-bb-so):  WASKA-PJ Johnson (W, 5-1)  6-4-1-0-2-7; Levi Johnson 1-0-0-0-0-0 . . . MOR-D. Storck  3-1-0-0-0-5; L. Gibson (L)  2-3-3-2-2-3; J. Hallman 1-2-2-1-2-1


at Waska 4, Morris 2

Waska (15-4) 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 — 4 7 1

Morris 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 — 2 4 2

HITTING:  WASKA-Noah Jensen 2-for-3, 1 run, 2 RBI, HR; Austin Ballhagen 2-for-3, 1 run, RBI, triple; Alex Panitzke 1-for-3; Dylan Alexander 1-for-3, 1 run; Levi Johnson 1-for-3; Austin Weber 1 run, sb; Conner Erickson RBI  . . . MOR-O. Anderson 2-for-3, 2 RBI

PITCHING:  (ip-h-r-er-bb-so):  WASKA-Alex Panitzke (W, 3-1)  7-4-2-2-1-7 . . . MOR-A. Asmus (L)  6-6-4-3-0-3; D. Travis 1-1-0-0-0-2