Chan Red Birds - Jurgella-Straka

Defending state champion Chanhassen bolstered its roster this past off-season, adding middle of the batting order power in Michael Jurgella, left, and pitcher John Straka, right. Both spent time in independent league ball the past few seasons.

With nine home games on the schedule in the month of July, first-year Chanhassen Red Bird Michael Jurgella couldn’t help but smile thinking about what might be.

Into a July 7 contest with Coon Rapids, Jurgella had blasted four home runs at the park, found the gap for six doubles, drove in 12 runs and crossed home plate 11 times in nine contests at Storm Red Bird Stadium.

A batting average of .387.

“We get a great crowd here. They put on a great experience for all of us, it’s a lot of fun. It’s exciting to be a part of that. If I get a few (home runs) along the way, great, if not, I’m here to enjoy these moments,” Jurgella said.

Jurgella, a former catcher at St. Cloud State University, teammate of many Red Birds just a few years back, was welcomed to the Chanhassen dugout for 2019, bolstering an already potent offense.

“It was time to see what this was all about. I played with a lot of these guys at St. Cloud State. It’s been great so far, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Jurgella said.

Jurgella spent three-plus innings playing independent ball in the Frontier League, suiting up for the River City Rascals in O’Fallon, Missouri. He hit .268 with 144 RBIs and 88 extra-base hits, including 26 home runs, during that time.

“I think, the pitching I’ve seen at this level, there’s no slack pitching. It’s been good. Like any level, there’s an adjustment to what you’re seeing, and I do think my past experience helps. I’m having a good time with a bunch of really good guys and that’s what I was looking for,” Jurgella said.

Jurgella, giving third base a shot for the Red Birds this season — too many balls to the head, Jurgella said, to be behind the plate — has made an impact from the start.

He hit a 2-run homer for the difference in a 3-2 win over Beaudreau’s Saints in June. Jurgella blasted a pair of home runs with three RBIs in an extra-inning loss to defending Class A champion St. Louis Park as well.

His three RBI, two-hit game, which included his sixth home run of the summer, was part of a 12-2 win over Prior Lake to start off the month of July.

Chanhassen had 12 total hits in the eight-inning win. Justin Anderson and Matt Smith also homered with Garrett Fischer doubling in a 2-for-4, two runs scored performance.

Dominic Reed dominated Coon Rapids batters, allowing one runner, a single, in a 3-0 win July 7. Reed struck out nine batters with no walks in the 102-pitch complete game.

Nick Smith and Anderson each hit solo home runs with Brandon Arnold stealing two bases and scoring a run. Chanhassen is now 13-3 overall with 11 July dates remaining.

The Red Birds host Carver at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 before playing Moorhead and Cold Spring, two of the top teams in Class B, on Friday and Saturday, July 12-13, at 7:30 and 5:30 p.m., respectively.

Victoria, Minnetonka and Shakopee also are entertained by the Red Birds July 16, 17 and 19.

“First and foremost, joining these guys was about enjoying the game, enjoying the time in the dugout. I had a great relationship with these guys at St. Cloud. There’s no denying, though, that it’s enjoyable to play for a team that has had such great success, and hopefully be a part of repeating what these guys did last year,” Jurgella said.

WALK-OFF WIN

Rallying from a late two-run deficit, Chaska walked off visiting Victoria in front of a full grandstand July 7, a 5-4 win. The Cubs are now 17-4 on the season.

On a night where more than $2,500 was raised for the Jenna Paschke Memorial Scholarship through a raffle and personal donations, Chaska tied the game at four on a two-run double from Justin Johnson.

Two innings later, a Steve Edlefsen pinch-hit single followed by a sacrifice bunt led to a Jon Leighton game-winning single, Steve’s brother, Mike, crossing home plate.

Chaska earlier had a 2-1 lead on a two-run single from Tyler Polster.

Spenser Larson (2 RBI double), Carter Schmidt (run-scoring double) and Andy Andresen (RBI single) accounted for Victoria’s offense.

Pete Ohnsorg struck out five batters over three innings of relief for the win for Chaska. Hunter Even also fanned five batters over five innings in the no decision.

Chaska was coming off a 10-6 loss to Rochester on July 2. Tyler Peterson hit a home run with three runs driven in and two runs scored.

The Cubs finish the regular season with seven of the final nine games against Region 3B opponents including Burnsville and Prior Lake at home July 12 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.

THE RACE IS ON

Two weeks remain, an automatic spot into the Region 7C Tournament is on the line for a handful of Crow River Valley League teams.

Through July 7 games, Carver, despite a pair of losses, remains tied atop the South Division with an 11-4 record. Young America and Brownton both have records of 10-3.

Cologne, with a 3-1 win over the Black Sox, now own a 6-1-1 record over the last eight games, and are 9-5 in league play.

The two division champions plus the next two best records in the league automatically advance to the Region 7C Tournament. The remaining eight teams will be seeded and play a best-of-three series to determine the final four teams.

Cologne, which finished off a season sweep of Plato with an 8-6 win on June 30, topped Carver behind three unearned runs. Carter Clemensen drove in a key run with a two-out double to extend the advantage to three runs.

Clemensen knocked in the eventual winning run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. Tim Swanson and Kyle Brazil each had two hits for the Hollanders.

Cologne newcomers Torben Urdahl (five innings, three hits, three strikeouts) and Christian Johnson (four innings, one hit, eight strikeouts) combined for the victory.

Johnson, with a 4-1 record, 57 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched, is headed to Kalamazoo of the Northwoods League, a possible return for the playoffs.

Cologne is back in action Saturday at Young America for Merchant Days at 4 p.m. and home in a rematch with Carver at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Final games are July 18 at Green Isle and July 21 at home against Brownton.

Carver, beaten 10-0 in the second game to Watertown, won seven of eight league games in June, earning an 8-0 mark with a later forfeit from Waconia.

Kyle Dalton (.446), Andrew Weber (.355) and Cole Kirchoff (.348) are top offensive batting leaders for the Black Sox.

Carver, at Chanhassen on July 11, are at Plato at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at Cologne at 6 p.m. Sunday. A 3 p.m. home game with Green Isle is the final league game on July 21.

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