Tourney play begins July 28 at Pierz Legion Park
By Derek Herman, Correspondent
In play over the July 21 – 22 weekend, the Lastrup Lakers, Sobieski Skis, Buckman Billygoats, Freeport Black Sox, Avon Lakers, Nisswa Lightning and St. Mathias Devils, won spots in the Victory League (VL) Region 8C tourney.
Fort Ripley 4, St. Mathias 1
With their backs against the wall and facing their second elimination game of the weekend, the Fort Ripley Rebels were able to keep their dream of reaching another Region 8C tournament alive with a 4-1 victory over the St. Mathias Devils, July 22.
The Rebels scored one run in the bottom of the first and held the lead throughout. Logan Kalis led the way for the Rebels by pitching a complete game where he scattered three hits and four walks while striking out 10 to earn his second win of the weekend.
Hitting highlights for the Rebels included Kalis who went 1-3 with a walk, RBI, and a run scored and Jason Sather, who led the way going 2-4 with a double and two runs scored, while Rhett Williamson went 1-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Devils were never able to figure Kalis out as their only run was a late-game groundout by starting pitcher Zach Heidmann that scored Blake Thiesse. Heidmann pitched eight innings and gave up all four runs on seven hits and four walks and collected seven strikeouts in the losing effort.
St. Mathias 10, Fort Ripley 5
In the decisive game of the Victory League North Division playoffs, the St. Mathias Devils used a two-run fifth inning July 21, to seal a 10-5 come-from-behind win over the Fort Ripley Rebels and earn their spot as the number one seed out of the North Division in the Region 8C tournament.
In this seesaw battle the Rebels used a Devils’ error and a groundout out to gain an early 2-0 advantage in the second inning. St. Mathias was able to battle back and tie the game with two runs of their own in the top half of the third inning before the Rebels scored in the bottom of the inning to make it a 3-2 game after three innings.
Both teams added one more run in the fourth inning before the Devils plated two runs in the top of the fifth and took the lead for good. The Devils added five more runs in the final four innings and the Rebels scored just one to give the Devils the 10-5 win.
The Devils used another good pitching performance by Josh Haberman to earnthe victory. Haberman relinquished five runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out four batters. At the plate, the Devils were led by Blake Thiesse who went 3-5 with a triple, a walk, an RBI and two runs scored while Jake Francis went 3-6 with a double and two runs scored. Cody Stange added three hits of his own and Ryan Thiesse and Luke Boran both ended with two hits.
The Rebels were led by a 3-5 performance from Nick Jelacie that included a double, two runs batted in and a run scored. Jason Sather and Rhett Williamson both added two hits of their own while Brett Kramer and Bill Sather each recorded one hit. Ethan Branum took the loss on the mound for the Rebels.
After the game the Devils selected Brett Kramer of Fort Ripley as their one draft pick and the Nisswa Lightning selected Logan Kalis also of Fort Ripley.
In other action over the July 21 – 22 weekend, as reported by the Victory League:
Lastrup 10, Buckman 0
The Lastrup Lakers captured the East Division playoff title July 22, with a 10-0 win in eight innings over the Buckman Billygoats.
Lastrup got a run in the first on a bases loaded walk to Dustin Schmaltz to go up 1-0. A Billygoats error in the second made it 2-0. Lastrup broke the game open in the fifth when they scored six times.
Jason Sadlovsky and Nathan Janson had RBI singles and the big blow came from Reggie Litke’s three-run double. Schmaltz added a sixth inning sacrifice fly to make it 9-0 and Don Weiss came through with a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to end the game due to the 10-run rule.
Chad Weiss went all the way for Lastrup, allowing just two hits in his shutout.
Both teams added one pitcher to their staff for Region 8C tourney action, with a post-game draft. Lastrup selected Harding’s Mitch Dorn and Buckman chose Pierz Bulldog Pete Herman.
The Billygoats eliminated the Pierz Bulldogs, the Pierz Brewers and the Harding Dinosaurs, during their playoff run.
Sobieski 9, Freeport 3
The Sobieski Skis won the West Division playoff crown July 22, with a 9-3 win over the Freeport Black Sox.
Sobieski trailed 3-1 going to the bottom of the sixth when Isaac Smieja led off the inning with a home run. Later that inning, Sobieski would load the bases and Josh Wenzel, who has seen very limited duty due to a broken foot suffered prior to the high school baseball season, delivered a three-run double to put the Skis ahead for good.
Tyler Jendro got the win by working 7 1/3 innings. Nate Olson pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief.
The Black Sox will be making their first-ever appearance in the Region 8C tournament. They won the Region 10C title last year as a member of the Lakewood League.
The Sobieski Skis are the two-time defending Region 8C champions and have qualified for seven straight years. The Skis won Region titles in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2011, failing to make the tournament just once this decade, in 2005.
Sobieski drafted pitcher John Fuchs from Upsala while Freeport drafted Matt Swanson, also from Upsala.
St. Stephen 11, Avon 1
The St. Stephen Steves forced a decisive second game in the South Division playoffs July 22, by handling top seeded Avon 11-1 in seven innings in the first game.
John Schumer pitched a complete game four-hitter for the Steves for the win. Neil Theisen led a 13-hit attack for St. Stephen with three hits and he scored twice.
Collecting hits for Avon were Taylor Holthaus, Jeff Swenson, Tony Harlander and Troy Wunderlich.
Avon 10, St. Stephen 0
The Avon Lakers took Game 2 of the South Division championship July 22, with a 10-0 win in seven innings over the St. Stephen Steves.
The Lakers managed just seven hits but utilized numerous walks from the Steves pitching staff. The Lakers went on to earn the South Division’s number one seed heading into the Region 8C tourney. The Steves will be the number two seed out of the South.
Avon drafted pitcher Jake Eichten of the Opole Bears while the Steves drafted St. Wendel’s Brandon Hellmann.
Elimination games Saturday, July 21
Freeport 3, Upsala 1
In the West Division elimination game, the Freeport Black Sox earned their first trip to the Region 8C tournament with a 3-1 win over the Upsala Bluejays.
Upsala saw its season end with the loss.
Buckman 2, Harding 1
The fourth seeded Buckman Billygoats clinched a spot in the 2012 Region 8C tournament with a 2-1 win at Harding in the East Division elimination game.
The loss eliminated Harding from the playoffs.
Ft. Ripley 5, Nisswa 4
In the North Division elimination game, the Ft. Ripley Rebels kept their season alive by winning 5-4, in extra innings over the Nisswa Lightning.
St. Stephen 2, Opole 0
In the South Division elimination game, the St. Stephen Steves edged the Opole Bears 2-0 behind a complete-game five-hit shutout by Nick Krippner.
Region 8C Tournament Play at Pierz Park:
Region play continues Saturday, July 28, at the Pierz Legion Park. The St. Stephen Steves face the Sobieski Skis at 1:30 p.m.; The Freeport Black Sox take on the Avon Lakers at 11 a.m.; Nisswa Lightning go up against the Lastrup Lakers at 5 p.m. and the Buckman Billygoats meet the St. Mathias Devils at 7:30 p.m.
The tournament is double elimination, allowing all eight teams to play again Sunday, July 29.
Winners will advance in the Region 8C Tournament to play in Avon, Aug. 4 – 5.