Rapids, Proctor reach 7AA final
by BRUCE BENNETT Associate Sports Editor
GRAND RAPIDS -- Mark Sonaglia came within two outs of pitching a perfect game Tuesday night, but settled for a no-hitter instead while leading Grand Rapids toa 1-0 victory over North Branch in the Region 7AA baseball semifinals.
Sonaglia, a senior right-hander who boosted his record to 10-0, walked his opposite number, North Branch pitcher Tim Carr, on a 3-2 count with one out in the seventh inning.
"I've had no-hitters before, but none this year and never a perfect game," Sonaglia said afterward. "Nobody said much to me about it during the game, but I knew what was happening. I was thinking about it."
But he seemed happier with the victory and the no-hitter than he was disappointed in losing the "perfecto."
He said he thought he had Carr struck out on a couple pitches, one of them the 3-2 pitch. "I thought they were strikes, but that's the way it goes," he said.
Sonaglia struck out 11, including the side in the second and fifth innings, each time getting the four-five-six batters in the North Branch lineup.
"It is as good as he has pitched this year," said Coach Bob Streeter. "He threw mostly fastballs and mostly strikes. His slider wasn't breaking in the first inning and he didn't use it much after that."
The victory moves Grand Rapids, 17-1, into the Region 7AA championship game today against Proctor, 8-9, a 7-4 victory over Denfeld-Morgan Park in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader.
The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Legion Field, where a shirt-sleeve crowd of 300 watched the semifinals in perfect baseball weather.
His teammates gave Sonaglia the only run he needed in the bottom of the first inning when Bill Kinnunen stroked a double to right-center and came around on two infield errors on a ball hit by Dan Renner. And that was the only run they got, as Carr spaced six hits and gave up three walks, two intentional. [Rapids] loaded the bases with one out in the third when Tom Streetar singled, went to third on Kinnunen's second double and Renner was walked intentionally.
With the infield drawn in, Sonaglia slapped a sharp ground ball right at shortstop Jeff Lefto. He turned it into an inning-ending second-to-first double play. [Rapids] had runners on first and second in the sixth, but pinch-hitter Craig Alreck lined into another double play.
While Grand Rapids used pitching to reach the championship game, Proctor got there with the long ball. Chris Frank hit a two-run homer and Todd Johnson cracked a three-run shot to lead the Rails, who got a solid pitching job from Steve Makitalo.
But it took some stout relief from Ray Sandstrom to get the final two outs with two Hunters on base and one run in in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Sandstrom came in from left field to get Pat Berquist on a pop foul and fanned David LeGarde to preserve the victory for Makitalo, who succumbed to wildness in the last two innings.
Denfeld-Morgan Park led 2-1 when Frank rode a Barry Midthun pitch over the left field fence for a 3-2 lead and the Rails never trailed again.
They got four more in the sixth, three on Johnson's home run off Todd Murtley, then had difficulty putting pesky Hunters away.
Two walks, a balk, a hit batsman and an infield out plated one Denfeld-Morgan Park run in the sixth, and two more walks and an RBI single by Dan Stano chased Makitalo in the seventh.
But Sandstrom closed the door. "I've come in like that a few times in other games," said Sandstrom. "But not in a big game like this. I just wanted to throw strikes."
He likely will get a chance to throw a few more today, since Sandstrom is Coach Rich Petersson's choice to face Grand Rapids today.
(Duluth News Tribune, May 6, 1984)
Recap for the 06/05/1984 game @ Duluth Denfeld-Morgan Park (Playoffs)
Rapids, Proctor reach 7AA final