Farmington baseball could not be any hotter heading into the Section 1AAAA playoffs, even if they literally were on fire. The Tigers ended their regular season with eight-straight wins-including Eastview and Lakeville North-to tie-for-second in the South Suburban Conference and finish with a 13-7 overall record. They start section play on Friday, May 24, as the No. 2 seed and will host No. 7 Owatonna. Should Farmington win, they would then play the winner of No. 3 New Prague and No. 6 Lakeville South in Farmington on Tuesday, May 28. The Tigers did not play Owatonna during the regular season, but they did lose to New Prague 2-1 in the season opener and split two games with the Cougars.
The eight-game winning streak goes back to May 1. The Tigers have proven they can win close games as three of those wins came by just one run and another three were by three runs or less. Half of those eight wins came the last week of the regular season as they beat Rosemount Monday, May 13, and Eagan Tuesday, May 14, on the road 6-3 and 4-3 respectively.
The win over Rosemount took some late-game heroics with it tied 3-3 heading into the seventh inning. The Tigers scored three runs in the top of the seventh on three hits, despite having only four total hits for the game. Head coach Jon Graff said that senior Brady Bean pitched well and was able to overcome errors behind him. Bean threw five innings and gave up three runs (only one earned) on four hits and two walks. He was relieved by sophomore Korey Dahlberg who pitched the final two innings and did not give up a hit or a walk with one strikeout. Sophomore Alex Berreth led the team with two hits and an RBI while fellow sophomore Isaac Ask, senior Hunter Conrad and Bean all also added an RBI.
Beating Eagan 4-3 took an extra inning and Graff said his team played well in all facets.
"Like I've said before, good teams find ways to win and that's what we did tonight," he said. "We got some really solid pitching from Conrad and Dahlberg and played great defense behind them. Then we did just enough to scratch out some runs. We were able to score with the long ball and small ball as (senior Nick) Savisik blasted a home run in the fifth, then in the 8th we got a lead-off hit by Ask, Dahlberg bunted him to second and Ask had some great heads up running on (senior Gavin) Renwick's ground out and then he scored on a passed ball."
Graff also singled out the recent play of Dahlberg as an anchor at the end of games for the Tigers.
"Dahlberg has done a great job in relief for us, as he has five appearances now and has recorded three wins and a save," he said. "He's really been effective."
The home win against Eastview featured more late-game heroics as Savisik came through for the Tigers with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh for the 4-3 win. Eastview finished the season ranked No. 7 in Class AAAA.
"This was a big win for us against the No. 8 team in state and it gives us seven wins in a row," Graff said. "We're playing with such confidence, we just know that if we keep doing what we're supposed to, something good will happen. We've got such great senior leadership, and they've been playing varsity for two, three or even 4 years now, they are comfortable and nothing is too big for them."
The game also saw the return of senior Adam Weed who had been out all season.
"As good as this win was, it was even better that we got Adam Weed back from his ACL injury tonight and he got a hit in his very first at-bat," Graff added. "Nobody has worked harder than him and we were all so happy for him once he got cleared. His bat will add to an already potent line-up."
Farmington wrapped up their regular season by celebrating senior night and 10-running Apple Valley 11-1 in five innings. Bean pitched four innings and gave up one run on three hits with three strikeouts, while Dahlberg pitched the fifth. The Tigers racked up 11 runs on 12 hits and were led by Savisik-who went 3-for-3-and Ask who was 2-for-2. Savisik, Bean and sophomore Carter Hendrickson each had two RBI while seniors Luke Grengs and Zach Jakubowski both had one apiece.
"The guys came in with a goal tonight and we took care of business," Graff said. "We knew that if we won and Prior Lake beat Eastview, we'd tie for the conference championship. We came out swinging and put up nine runs in the first two innings and then Bean did the rest, pitching the first four innings on short rest and then Dahlberg came in to pitch the fifth."
Prior Lake did not beat Eastview, however, and Farmington ended up finishing tied-for-second in the SSC with Burnsville and one game behind Eastview.
"That win makes it eight in a row, which is a testament to how well we're playing," Graff continued. "We're starting to peak at the right time as we head into sections. Our goal all year was to compete for a conference championship and a section championship. We came up just a bit short on one, and are ready to get after the other."