There's the Fourth of July. Weekends at the lake with family and friends. Line-up cards look a little different over the first three weeks of July for most amateur baseball teams.
It's about piecing together a quality nine for some teams in the dog days of summer in advance of post-season tournaments.
Add in a growing list of injured players and the Chaska Cubs were at a distinct disadvantage over the weekend in losses to Burnsville (3-2) in 10 innings and Shakopee (10-3).
Out currently are shortstop Mac Born (wrist), catcher Matt Halloran (knee), and third baseman Steve Edlefsen (ill).
Ryan Rodriguez dazzled on the mound on July 16, allowing two hits with double-digit strikeouts over nine innings in a 1-1 game. Burnsville scored twice in the 10th inning for the win.
Chaska took a 3-0 lead early on versus Shakopee, a team the Cubs beat 4-2 earlier in the week, but the Indians mounted a comeback, plating seven runs in a 11-batter fourth inning. Steve Boldt started the rally with a 2-run homer.
The Cubs gained a 1-0 lead on a Tyler Polster RBI-single with Brad Worm connecting on a two-run shot, his first home run in his amateur baseball career, for the early three-run advantage.
Chaska is 16-11 with five games remaining, four on the road, with the lone game at Athletic Park on Tuesday, July 27, versus Prior Lake. The Cubs also play on Sunday, July 25, in Victoria at 6 p.m.
A half-game out of first place in the Region 3B standings, the next two weeks will decide the top seed for next month's eight-team tournament for the Chanhassen Red Birds.
A four-game stretch over four days at Storm Red Bird Stadium beginning July 20 included league contests with Shakopee and Chaska. Chanhassen heads to Burnsville on July 26 and Victoria on July 29 to close out the league schedule.
Chanhassen was idle from league play over the weekend, though did win a pair of one-run games over Moorhead (1-0) and Cold Spring (3-2). The victory over the Brewers was a rematch of the 2020 Class B State Championship.
Brandon Arnold scored the lone run in the sixth inning for the Red Birds, which collected four hits -- two each from Michael Jurgella and Jack Nemetz.
John Straka (six innings) and Kody Dalen (three innings) combined for the shutout, totaling 12 strikeouts with two walks. Dalen set down the final nine batters, the last six on ground ball outs, for the save.
Chanhassen collected a victory over the Cold Spring Springers on Saturday, getting six shutout innings from Tommy Thompson. Logan Spitzack and Miles Nablo closed the door on potential Springer rallies, totaling 11 strikeouts between the three Red Bird pitchers for the game.
Andrew Mahlke collected two RBIs on a pair of singles up the middle for Chanhassen. Mahlke, Aaron Pfaff, Aaron Kloeppner, and Brandon Arnold each had two hits in the game.
The Red Birds close out the four-game homestand with Hamel and the Twin City Saints on July 22-23 at 7:30 p.m. each night.
Nine wins in a 10-game stretch, a perfect 8-0 record against Region 3B teams including a 14-inning win over Chanhassen, Victoria fell 6-2 to second-year club Excelsior on July 17.
It was the first program win for the Islanders, ironically in their first-ever game at Veterans Field at Minnetonka High School.
Four consecutive walks to begin the seventh inning allowed Excelsior to tie the game at two. Following an RBI-fielder's choice from Blake Birno, Jon Rupp plated two runs with a triple. A run-scoring single from Nate Steckman concluded the five-run rally.
Nick Hays (three innings) and Riley Funk (three innings, three strikeouts) worked in relief for the win.
Victoria was coming off a trio of three 1-run wins over Chanhassen, Shakopee and Prior Lake. An error with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning led to the Vics' 6-5 win on July 16.
Victoria looks to clinch the No. 1 seed in Region 3B with games against Burnsville (July 20 and 23), Chaska (July 25) and Chanhassen (July 29); the final three games at Poppitz Field.
A loss to Plato on July 17 all but cemented a Crow River Valley League South Division title for the Bluejays. For Carver, once the leader, a game 24 hours later with Cologne was a must-win with the league standings tight up top.
And while the Black Sox allowed the Hollanders to tie the game with a pair of unearned runs late, Jay Bresnahan sent Carver into celebration mode with a deep drive over the head of Cologne center fielder Tanner Luebke for the walk-off 5-4 win Sunday.
A lead-off single from Bailey Melz and sacrifice bunt from Cole Kirchoff started the ninth-inning score.
Carver sits in fourth place in the Crow River Valley League at 11-6 with two games remaining. Watertown is one-game ahead of the Black Sox at 12-5 with Young America also at 11-6. Carver holds the tie-breaker advantage with a season sweep of the Cardinals.
Carver scored three times in the third inning on consecutive run-scoring hits from Bresnahan, Ben Alexander and Sam Warner.
Kyle Brazil kept Cologne close, a sacrifice fly scoring Carter Clemensen, who had doubled, in the fourth inning, and a RBI-single in the sixth inning. The two teams traded unearned runs in the seventh and eighth inning respectively.
Cologne tied the game at four with two outs in the ninth inning on a Casey Clemensen bloop single into right field.
Cologne, 9-9 in the Crow River Valley League, was coming off a 6-4 road win at Brownton on July 16.
The Hollanders close out the regular season on Sunday, July 25, in a 12:30 p.m. home matinee against Young America. Cologne is locked in at the No. 7 seed with a potential playoff series match-up set against Glencoe, Hamburg or New Germany.
Carver, if victorious over last-place St. Boni and Brownton in the final week -- a 2 p.m. road start on July 25 in Brownton -- could finish as high as the third seed or as low as the five seed with two losses and Mayer and Young America wins.