Amateur baseball: Luverne tops Wilmont
WILMONT –– A three-run top of the fourth inning by Luverne Wednesday evening helped the third-seeded Redbirds break open a pitcher’s duel between Wilmont’s Justin Saufley and Pipestone draftee Greg Quist before a nice-sized crowd at Butts Probst Field.
Later, the Redbirds held off a late rally by the second-seeded Cardinals and prevailed with a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the Region 13C amateur baseball semifinals.
Quist (five strikeouts) kept the Cardinals off the board through seven innings and Saufley (10 strikeouts, no walks) twirled seven scoreless frames himself.
Luverne’s Jared Pick (2-for-4) lifted a solo home run over the right-field fence in top of the eighth, giving the Redbirds a 4-0 lead.
But, Wilmont –– which had loaded the bases in the bottom of the first and stranded a total of 13 runners during the contest –– finally scored in the bottom of the eighth frame and then plated two more runs in the bottom of the ninth.
“Our offense was a little late, but Luverne really played great defense and made plays on a lot of balls that looked like hits,” summed up Wilmont manager Todd Rogers. “It was a good battle between two competitive teams who are used to playing close games against each other.”
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is at Luverne Friday (7:30 p.m.) while a third game, if necessary, is back in Wilmont at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“We really played defense tonight,” praised Luverne player-manager James Fisher, who made a stellar defensive play at second base for a key out in the bottom of the ninth and drove in the game’s first two runs with a well-placed single to right field in the top of the fourth. “We have lots of guys who can make plays for us, which is nice.”
Third baseman Cody Christensen made a trio of dandy plays for the Redbirds, including a diving stop, robbing Blake Rogers of a hit in the bottom of third.
After three scoreless innings, the Redbirds –– who spread 10 hits among seven players –– erupted with three runs on four hits and the game’s only error in the top of the fourth.
Back-to-back one-out singles by Connor Fitzer (2-for-4) and Phil Paquette put two Luverne runners on base and when Pick reached on an error, the bases were full for Fisher, who singled home both Fitzer and Paquette.
Catcher Codie Zuetenhorst (2-for-4) plated Pick with a sharp single up the middle.
Neither team scored again until Pick’s blast made it 4-0.
Wilmont countered with a run as Joe Krivarchka drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a groundout –– another fine play by Christensen.
After a diving catch in center field by Richard Gonzales for the second out, Saufley delivered an RBI single to left, scoring Krivarchka.
Adam Diekmann drew a leadoff walk for the Cardinals in the ninth and raced to third on a deep single to right center by Stuart Rogers (2-for-4).
With runners on the corners and no outs, P aquette relieved Quist on the mound for Luverne.
Two batters later, Diekmann scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Steven Kremer and pinch runner Mike Vorwald moved to third.
Blake Rogers drove in Vorwald with an RBI single to left, but Paquette induced another fly ball to Gonzales to end the game.
R H E
Luverne 000 300 010 –– 4 10 0
Wilmont 000 000 012 –- 3 6 1