Skis prevail over Black Sox during division playoffs

Region 8C tourney spots on the line

By Derek Herman, Correspondent

Freeport’s Grant Hess, left, collected one of his two hits, as Sobieski’s Riley Hirsch was set to catch. Despite Hess’ hits, the Skis won 3-2 Sunday, July 15, in Victory League West Division playoffs.

After splitting their regular Victory League (VL) season series one game apiece, the Sobieski Skis edged the Freeport Black Sox, 3-2, Sunday, July 15, in the West Division winner’s bracket with a slot in the Region 8C tournament on the line.

The number two seeded Black Sox jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Chad Hess hit an RBI double. The score didn’t change until the fourth inning when Freeport Center Fielder Grant Hess doubled and knocked in Chad Hess to give the Black Sox a 2-0 lead.

After being silenced through the first five innings by the Black Sox pitcher Mike Frerichs, the Skis were finally able to get on the board in the sixth inning with a Riley Hirsch RBI single.

The Skis struck again with an RBI single by their starting pitcher Tyler Jendro to tie the game in the eighth inning. With the score deadlocked at two in the bottom of the ninth, Isaac Smieja came up with the game winning single to score Hirsch from second base and give the Skis a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory.

Smieja finished 1-4 with an RBI for the Skis, with Hirsch going 2-4 with an RBI, run, and a stolen base while Jendro was 1-4 with an RBI and pitched a complete game giving up two earned runs on six hits and one walk while collecting four strikeouts.

Chad and Grant Hess both collected two hits and an RBI each with Mike Frerichs scoring a run and surrendering two runs on four hits and one walk and struck out three in eight innings of work for Freeport.

In other VL action over the July 14 -15 weekend:

West Division Playoffs 

Sobieski 15, Randall 5
The top-seeded Sobieski Ski’s hammered fourth seeded Randall 15-5 in eight innings Saturday, July 14. The Skis pounded out 24 hits, led by four hits from both Isaac Smieja and Joe Rydeen.

Jon Czech had three hits including a double and a home run. Czech and Smieja hit back-to-back homers to lead off the seventh for the Skis.

Nate Olson filled in for starting pitcher Andrew Lange and pitched seven innings for the win.

Nick Prozinski led the Cubs with a pair of solo home runs. Dusty Parker also homered for Randall.

Freeport 7, Upsala 5
The Black Sox opened playoffs Saturday, July 14, with a 7-5 win over the Upsala Bluejays at Black Sox Park.

Freeport struck quickly in the bottom of the first as Upsala starting pitcher Matt Swanson loaded the bases on two walks and a hit by pitch before Ryan Tschida cleared the bases with a double to make it 3-0.

The Bluejays’ Adam Gerads got a lead-off run and tied the game, 3-3.

The Black Sox regained the lead on Carter Sawyer’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fourth.

In the top of the fifth, Jason Tschida walked and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chad Hess to make the score 5-3.

From the fifth through the eighth innings, the Black Sox allowed only a hit batter in the fifth and a single in the sixth. Freeport added two runs in the sixth to make it 7-3.

In the bottom of the ninth, two runners were walked, making it 7-4, before Matt Swanson lined an RBI single up the middle for the final 7-5.

Upsala 3, Randall 1
The Upsala Bluejays held off elimination with a 3-1 win over the Randall Cubs, Sunday, July 15.

Joe Bartkowicz connected for a three-run homer in the fifth to account for all of Upsala’s runs.

Randall tallied its lone run in the eighth. John Fuchs pitched a complete game for the win for the Jays. Bartkowicz, Dustin Biniek and Brock Cichon had two hits each for Upsala.

Dusty Parker had two hits for Randall.

The loss eliminated the Cubs from the playoffs and ended their season.

East Division Playoffs

Lastrup 19, Buckman 3
The undefeated Lastrup Lakers rolled along as they opened the East Division playoffs with a 19-3 win over fourth seeded Buckman in seven innings Saturday, July 15.

An eight-run second inning for Lastrup blew the game open early. Scott Janson had a three-run double in that frame. Brandon Lochner added a three-run double of his own as Lastrup plated five more runs in the third inning. Both Janson and Lochner would drive in four runs in the game.

Lastrup batters also took advantage of 11 walks and a hit batter issued by three different Billygoats pitchers.

Buckman scored all three of its runs in the third inning with two coming on a double by Peter Suska.

Lastrup 5, Harding 0
The Lastrup Lakers blanked the Harding Dinosaurs 5-0 Sunday, July 15, in the East Division winner’s bracket game.

Scott Janson worked seven innings, scattered five hits and fanned two for the win, while Reggie Litke tossed two scoreless innings in relief to earn a save.

Lastrup scored a couple of runs early and tacked on two in the seventh and one in the eighth for the 5-0 final.

The Dinosaurs left the bases loaded in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and stranded a total of 14 runners in the game.

Rick Schlieman, Chad Weiss and Nathan Janson had two hits each for Lastrup. Curt Caughey, Josh Boser and Mitch Dorn had two-hit games for Harding.

Buckman 10, Pierz 8
Sunday, July, in a game that featured plenty of offense, the #4 seeded Buckman Billygoats advanced with a 10-8 win over the #2 seeded Pierz Brewers.

Each team’s starting nine had at least one hit in the game as the two teams combind to bang out 34 hits, with 17 a side.

The Brewers led 4-2 after four innings, but Jeremy Monson belted a two-run homer to tie the game and then Mark Kahl followed with a solo shot to put the Goats ahead 5-4.

After adding another run, Buckman had a 6-4 lead after seven innings. The Billygoats got a big three-run homer from Corey Egan in the eighth to extend their lead to 9-4. It was Egan’s second round-tripper of the day.

Pierz countered with three runs in the bottom of the eighth and left the bases loaded. Buckman held a 9-7 advantage after eight innings.

Both teams scored a run in the ninth, with the Brewers getting the tying run to the plate but failed to knot things up. Jeremy Monson got the win with Mark Kahl earning the save for Buckman.

The Goats out-homered the Brewers 4-0 in this game. With the loss, the Pierz Brewers saw their season come to an end.

Harding 5, Pierz 3
The third seeded Harding Dinosaurs pulled a mild surprise over the #2 seeded Pierz Brewers Saturday, July 14.

Mitch Dorn threw a complete game, striking out nine for the win. Mike Poser went all the way in a losing cause for the Brewers. Dorn was the only Dinosaur batter with more than one hit, going 2-3.

Dylan Kummet had three hits to lead Pierz. With the game tied at 2-2 after four innings, Harding plated three runs in the fifth.

The Brewers scored a run in the seventh to make it 5-3.

North Division Playoffs

St. Mathias 8, Fort Ripley 7
In the North Division playoffs Saturday, July 14, the #3 seeded St. Mathias Devils surprised the #2 seeded Ft. Ripley Rebels 8-7.

Justin Eschenbacher made his first career starting assignment in the Victory League a memorable one as he got his first career pitching win, throwing eight innings.

The Devils built an 8-2 lead going to the bottom of the seventh. The Rebels got one in the seventh and another in the eighth to make it 8-4.

The Rebels got a big lift from Brett Kramer when he blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to make it 8-7, but Josh Habeman came in and retired the side for the save and to preserve the win.

Cuyuna Range 5, Nisswa 6
In playoffs Saturday, July 14, #1 seeded Nisswa edged 4th seeded Cuyuna Range 6-5 at Don Adamson Field in Brainerd.

Brett Cloutier pitched all ning innings to get the win, striking out nine. With the game tied at 2-2 after three inninigs, Paul Jenkins delivered a two-run single in the fourth to put Nisswa up 4-2.

Mac Jones doubled home a run in the top of the fifth for the Miners to make it 4-3. Jason Roepke’s two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth gave Nisswa a 6-3 lead.

Cuyuna Range would score a run in the seventh and another in the eighth but fell just short in a 6-5 defeat.

St. Mathias 8, Nisswa 7
The #3 seeded St. Mathias Devils edged #1 Nisswa 8-7 Sunday, July 15, in the winner’s bracket.

Nisswa’s starting pitcher Luke Schumer was staked to an early 1-0 lead after two innings and retired the first 10 batters in the game.

His fortunes changed drastically with one out in the fourth when he hit a batter, then gave up five straight base hits and followed that with a walk.

St. Mathias had a 7-1 lead after 3 1/2 innings.

A solo homer for the Lightning in the bottom of the fourth, followed by a run in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings, gave the Devils an 8-5 going to the bottom of the ninth.

Nisswa scored two, but couldn’t tie the game.

Fort Ripley 13, Cuyuna 0
The Ft. Ripley Rebels kept its season alive Sunday, July 15, with a 13-0 blanking of the Cuyuna Range Miners in seven innings.

Brett Kramer had an impressive day both on the mound and at the plate. Kramer pitched five shutout innings and allowed only a second inning infield single. Kramer struck out eight.

Logan Kalis worked to shutout innings to close things out for the Rebels, registering three strikeouts.

At the plate, Kramer went 3-3 with a pair of home runs and a couple of walks. Kramer drove in a total of seven runs in the game.

The loss eliminated Cuyuna Range from the playoffs and ends its season.

South Division Playoffs

Opole 15, St. Stephen 11
The Opole Bears, seeded third in the South Division playoffs, defeated #2 seeded St. Stephen 15-11, Saturday, July 14.

The Bears jumped on Steves’ starter John Schumer for five runs and five hits in 2/3 of an inning and Opole led 9-2 after three innings.

The Steves crept back into the game, getting within a run, but a two-run homer in a three-run eighth inning was more than the Steves could overcome.

Opole scored in every inning except the fourth and the seven off of four different St. Stephen pitchers.

St. Wendel 5, Avon 7
The Avon Lakers, the South’s #1 seed, defeated #4 St. Wendel 7-5 Saturday, July 14, in the first round of playuoff action.

Kyle Collins pitched 2 perfect innings of relief to get the win, striking out six.

Taylor Holthaus, Jeff Swenson and Neil Manthe had two hits each for Avon. Damien Dumonceaux doubled and scored a run for the Saints.

Avon 11, Opole 1
Top seeded Avon broke open a close game Sunday, July 15, with third seeded Opole by scoring seven runs in the eighth inning to end the game via the 10-run rule as the Lakers posted an 11-1 win over the Bears in eight innings.

Neil Manthe, Rick Hendrickson and Matt Meyer had three hits each to pace a 17-hit attack for Avon.

St. Stephen 7, St. Wendel 3
St. Stephen Steves eliminated the St. Wendel Saints Sunday, July 15, with a 7-3 decision.

Nick Krippner and Jeremy Celusta combined on the pitching win with Krippner going 7 1/3 innings for the win, allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. Celusta is credited with the save.

Playoffs continue Saturday, July 21, as the Fort Ripley Rebels travel to Nisswa to take on Nisswa Lightning in the North elimination game.

The Buckman Billygoats take on the Harding Dinosaurs in Harding during the East elimination game.

The Opole Bears go up against the St. Stephen Steves on their home field for the South Division elimination game.

The Upsala Blue Jays played in Freeport taking on the Black Sox during the West Division elimination game.