With a little help from the rest of the East, Buckman entered Wednesday’s road game at Royalton two wins away from a regular season division crown.
About as soon as Shawn Lanners hit an early homer to put the Billygoats on the board, it became clear that Buckman would move one win away from an automatic region tournament berth, routing the Riverdogs 14-1.
Lanners ended up finishing 3-for-5, as did Corey Egan, who doubled twice and drove in two runs.
Ben Boser, Jeremy Payne, Noah Boser and Nick Lochner all added a pair of hits.
The Billygoats turned to Jeremy Monson to start the game, with Monson tossing three scoreless innings.
With the game well in hand, Monson gave way to Ben Boser, who allowed just one run on three hits over the final six innings to earn the win.
Buckman is scheduled to enter the final game of the regular season needing a victory at the Pierz Bulldogs to win the East, July 5.
With a Pierz win, Lastrup would take the title.
In other Victory League action June 27 – 29 and Wednesday:
Lastrup 18, Pierz Bulldogs 3
Pierz Bulldogs 10, Lastrup 9
Buckman remained alive in the division race thanks to some late theatrics in the second game of a doubleheader between Lastrup and the Pierz Bulldogs.
The game had major playoff implications, as Lastrup could have clinched the East with a sweep. Instead, the defeat in game two opened the door for Buckman.
The win was an absolute reversal from the opening game of the doubleheader in which Lastrup dominated from the outset, building a 14-0 lead en route to an 18-3 drubbing.
Brandon Lochner and Paul Herman each had three hits and combined to score seven runs for Lastrup in the opener, with Rick Schlieman collecting a pair of hits and walking twice.
It appeared Lastrup would cruise again in the finale as it took a 9-3 advantage into the ninth.
The Bulldogs promptly loaded the bases, though, scoring six quick runs off of just one hit to tie it, then plating the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Jon Hanson for a stunning 10-9 triumph.
Pierz Bulldogs 14, Cuyuna 8
Pierz’ offense didn’t cool off the following day, jumping on host Cuyuna Range for a 14-8 win in 11 innings.
Drew Elness and Brad Meyer each had four hits for the Bulldogs, with Elness homering and driving in four runs.
Aaron Schultz added three hits and a pair of runs.
Lance Herbst doubled twice and scored two runs for the Miners.
Sobieski 2, Randall 0
Sobieski 8, Upsala 1
Sobieski allowed only one run in two games as it finished off a perfect regular season in the Victory League and captured the West Division, defeating visiting Randall 2-0 and visiting Upsala 8-1.
Josh Wenzel tossed a four-hit shutout against Randall, with Beau Hanowski and Thomas Miller each providing multi-hit games at the plate.
The Skis then had five pitchers combine to scatter 10 hits in a victory over Upsala, with Riley Hirsch going 4-for-4 with two RBIs at the plate.
Jon Czech also reached four times and Andrew Gurbada added two hits.
Chris Ripplinger went 2-for-2 for Upsala.
Upsala 5, St. Stephen 0
Upsala opened the weekend with a 5-0 shutout at St. Stephen, with John Fuchs firing a seven-hitter.
Dustin Biniek and Brandon Welinski each went 3-for-5 and Brady Burggraff and Matt Swanson both added a pair of hits.
Randall 12, Flensburg 0
Dusty Parker tossed a two-hit shutout, with Eric Thilquist going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs as Randall blanked visiting Flensburg 12-0.
Eddie Wenzel added a hit and three RBIs.
Nisswa 13, Buckman 5
Nisswa 9, Cuyuna 1
Nisswa ran its winning streak to six and closed within a win of the North Division title, handling host Buckman 13-5 and visiting Cuyuna Range 9-1.
Jason Roepke went 3-for-5 with a grand slam against Buckman, then went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs while earning a complete-game win against Cuyuna Range.
Jeremiah Piepkorn went deep twice against Buckman.
The Billygoats were led by Shawn Lanners with three hits, with Jeremy Payne scoring twice and Corey Egan driving in two runs.
The Lightning are scheduled to close the regular season with against Fort Ripley, Saturday, July 5, with the two teams tied in the loss column atop the North Division.
Buckman 14, Pz. Brewers 9
Buckman kept itself alive in the East race over the weekend by winning a 14-9 slugfest over the host Pierz Brewers.
Ben Boser and Shawn Lanners each went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and Corey Egan, Nate Neeser and Peter Suska all had three hits and combined to drive in seven runs for Buckman.
Dylan Kummet and Greg Pohlkamp both collected three hits and Josh Boser went deep for Pierz.
Freeport 4, St. Stephen 0
Freeport 3, Avon 1
Freeport 12, Holdingford 0
Freeport locked up the South Division’s regular season title by allowing just one run in a trio of wins, defeating visiting St. Stephen 4-0, topping visiting Avon 3-1 and blanking Holdingford 12-0.
Peter Burg pitched a six-hit shutout against St. Stephen, with Craig Meyer driving in three runs.
Mitch Reller threw a five-hitter versus Avon.
Carter Sawyer fired seven shutout innings against Holdingford, with Troy Frieler providing three hits and three runs.
Avon 11, Holdingford 1
Avon 7, St. Wendel 3
Avon did find more success in its other two contests of the weekend, topping visiting Holdingford 11-1 and earning a 7-3 victory at St. Wendel.
Scott Litchy went 4-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs versus Holdingford, while Litchy, Taylor Holthaus and Riley Voit all homered against St. Wendel.
Cuyuna 11, St. Mathias 8
Cuyuna Range defeated visiting St. Mathias 11-8 to earn its first win of the season, led by multi-hit games from Nathan Ehnstrom, Lance Herbst, Zach Houle and Jake Zontelli.
Opole 7, Flensburg 4
Opole 4, Holdingford 1
Opole won twice to lock up the fourth seed in the West Division, and with it the chance to host its postseason play-in game.
The Bears opened the weekend with a 7-4 victory against Flensburg, with Zach Bialka going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs.
Braden Backowski had three hits and Luke Thoma and Jarrett Waldoch each had a pair for Flensburg, with Thoma scoring twice and Waldoch knocking in two runs.
Opole will host Flensburg in a rematch in the opening round of the playoffs Saturday, July 5.
The Bears also knocked off host Holdingford 4-1 over the weekend, with Sam Butler tossing 6 1/3 shutout innings for the win and Jake Nelson recording the final eight outs to notch the save.