By PATRICK SLACK
The battle for the final remaining spots in the Victory League’s Region 8C tournament included a dramatic 15-inning win by Upsala, a rally by Freeport and one-run victories by Buckman and St. Stephen, Saturday.
On Sunday, Fort Ripley, Lastrup, Sobieski and Avon locked up their respective division playoff championships.
A week after narrowly missing out on a spot in the division finals in an extra-inning defeat to Sobieski, Upsala nearly suffered the same fate in its elimination game against visiting Randall, but ultimately persevered 4-3 in 15 innings.
Matt Swanson belted a two-run homer in the first for Upsala, with Randall answering with a pair in the third to knot the game at 2-2.
The score remained that way until the 13th, when Randall’s Alec Zack reached on a two-base error and then came home to score on a pair of wild pitches.
Upsala managed to tie the score back up on a run-scoring single by Brandon Welinski, then finally finished off the game in the 15th when Ben Burgraff drove home Justin Lampert with the game-winner.
Matt Swanson started for Upsala, going nine innings without allowing an earned run.
John Fuchs tossed the next 3 1/3 innings of relief, then B.J. Lange closed the game with 2 2/3 scoreless innings to notch the win.
Kyle Peterschick went the distance for Randall, striking out 15 batters while registering 226 pitches.
Lampert finished with three hits for Upsala and Jason Peterschick collected three hits for Randall.
Upsala overcame eight errors in the field, while Randall didn’t commit any.
The Blue Jays exhibited no signs of fatigue in the following day’s finals, but couldn’t unseat Sobieski from its spot atop the West Division, as the host Skis captured their eight title in a row with a 4-3 win.
Jon Czech homered, drove in two runs and scored twice for Sobieski, with Tyler Jendro, Andrew Gurbada and Collin Eckman also picking up two hits apiece.
Beau Hanowski held Upsala to six runs over two innings to earn the win on the mound, with Riley Hirsch recording the save.
Joe Bartkowicz finished 2-for-4 with a homer for Upsala.
After breezing past the Pierz Brewers by double digits on three previous occasions, Buckman slipped by with a 4-3 home win to claim the final bid to regions out of the East Division.
The Billygoats never trailed, yet had to wait until the eighth inning to push across the winning run as Travis Kahl singled home Jeremy Monson.
Monson finished 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI at the plate while also earning the complete-game victory on the mound.
Chuck Boser doubled twice and finished with three hits for Pierz.
Buckman advanced to the division finals with the win, falling 11-0 at Lastrup.
Rick Schlieman homered and drove in five runs for Lastrup, with Scott Janson and Dan Saehr each going 2-for-3 and combining to drive in four runs and score three.
Chad Weiss struck out nine in a five-hit shutout.
In a rain-postponed game played in Pierz, Friday, Fort Ripley knocked Nisswa to the consolation bracket with a 4-2 win.
Logan Kalis homered, drove in three runs and recorded the save for the Rebels, with Jason Sather adding two hits and a run.
Dropped into an elimination game, Nisswa couldn’t come up with the win it required to keep its season alive, falling 7-4 to visiting Freeport.
Nisswa grabbed a 2-0 lead early on the first of Jeremiah Piepkorn’s three homers of the game, but the Black Sox rallied to take the lead for good with a four-run third.
Josh Vorpahl fanned 11 batters over seven innings to pick up the win for Freeport.
Fort Ripley defeated visiting Freeport 6-3 to secure the North Division title.
Brett Kramer struck out eight over eight innings and went 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs to lead the Rebels.
With a spot in the region tournament already secured by virtue of winning the regular season title, St. Stephen eliminated visiting St. Wendel from the playoffs with a 5-4 victory.
Adam Tschumperlin collected three hits and Travis Phelps went 2-for-5 with a double and a run for St. Stephen.
Bryce Feia went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs for St. Wendel.
Avon prevented host St. Stephen from capturing the South Division postseason crown, pulling away from the Steves 8-3.
Matt Meyer went 3-for-4 with two runs and Riley Voit homered and knocked in two for Avon.
The Region 8C tournament opens up Saturday at Pierz Legion Park. Games include: Buckman vs. Avon at 11 a.m.; St. Stephen vs. Lastrup at 1:30 p.m.; Upsala vs. Fort Ripley at 5 p.m.; and Freeport vs. Sobieski at 7:30 p.m.