AMATEUR BASEBALL: No luck for the Irish
WILMONT -- A four-run output in the bottom of the second inning helped set the tone for the top-seeded Wilmont Cardinals Friday night, as they claimed a 7-4 victory over the second-seeded Milroy Irish in an elimination game of the Gopher League amateur baseball playoffs at Butts Probst Field.
Wilmont (22-6) clinches a berth in the upcoming Region 13C tournament, joining Pipestone from the Gopher League. Jackson and Fairmont -- which earned a 3-1 victory over Fox Lake on Friday -- will represent the First Nite League.
Fourth-seeded Pipestone, which has not yet lost in the double-elimination tournament and defeated the Cardinals 4-3 last Friday, will host Wilmont Sunday afternoon to determine the Gopher League champion. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m., and Wilmont would need to claim a pair of victories over Pipestone to earn the top seed and the top draft pick for the region playoffs.
Jackson hosts Fairmont today (2 p.m.) to determine the top seed and the number-one draft pick out of the First Nite League for the region playoffs, which will likely begin Wednesday night.
Diekmann, Stoll and Kremer lead Cardinals
Wilmont will play in the region tournament for the third straight year, thanks in large part to Adam Diekmann, Nate Stoll and Steven Kremer among several others.
Diekmann twirled nine strong innings for the Cardinals, fanning 11 batters and issuing just one walk. Diekmann scattered 11 hits and allowed four runs -- one earned -- to notch a complete-game win on the mound.
"Adam always throws strikes and gives us a chance to win," Wilmont player/manager Justin Saufley said after the game. "He did a really nice job tonight of limiting the damage, as Milroy did hit the ball pretty well throughout the game. But Adam worked out of some jams and kept us in the game all night."
Stoll (2-for-4) and Kremer (2-for-3, two walks) each drove in two runs for Wilmont, including cracking back-to-back run-scoring base hits in the second inning.
An Irish error opened the door for Wilmont to score four runs in that frame, as Jay Scheidt reached on a defensive miscue with two outs and runners on first and second. Joe Ahrens (2-for-5) and Stuart Rogers led off the inning with consecutive singles before a pair of strikeouts followed.
Scheidt, who later singled in the sixth, then reached when Milroy's first baseman dropped a throw from the shortstop on a ground ball, allowing Ahrens to score the game's first run.
Stoll came through with a key two-run single to left-center, driving in Rogers from third and Scheidt from second to make it 3-0. Kremer then blasted an RBI double to right-center, plating Stoll to give Wilmont a quick 4-0 advantage.
"We came up with some clutch hits in key spots," Saufley said. "We caught a break in that second inning and made the most of the extra opportunity that we had there."
Milroy answered with a run in the top of the third on Isaac Dolan's RBI single. Tyler Peterson (2-for-4) drew a one-out walk and later scored from second, getting the Irish on the board -- trailing 4-1.
Dominic Dolan (2-for-5), Cory Madison (2-for-4) and Josh Ramos each collected a single in the first two innings for Milroy, but Diekmann fanned a trio of batters for three of his six outs in that span to keep the Irish in check.
Diekmann struck out two more batters in the fourth, working around a two-out double by Derek Riley. But the Irish broke through with a pair of runs in the fifth, trimming the gap to 4-3.
Peterson and Aaron Ogdahl (2-for-5, single in the third) led off with back-to-back singles -- the seventh and eighth base hits of the game for Milroy -- before Diekmann recorded a strikeout.
Andy Ogdahl then reached on a fielder's choice, with everybody safe, to load the bases. Anthony Dolan followed with a 6-4 fielder's choice (Rogers to Nick Ahrens), driving in Peterson from third to make it 4-2.
Anthony Dolan and Aaron Ogdahl then executed a double steal, with Dolan taking second and Ogdahl streaking home on the throw down to create a 4-3 score.
Madison followed with an infield single, but Wilmont got out of the inning when Dolan tried to score from second on the play. Diekmann, covering first base on the play, fired a strike to Kremer for the tag at the plate.
Wilmont responded with a run in the bottom half, as Saufley (2-for-4) belted a lead-off double to the fence in right-center field. Joe Ahrens drove in Saufley with a one-out RBI single to center and hustled all the way to third when the ball skipped past the center fielder.
Isaac Dolan (five innings, eight strikeouts, four walks) struck out the next two batters, stranding Ahrens at third and keeping the score at 5-3 Wilmont after five frames.
Diekmann then pitched three shutout innings, retiring nine of the 11 batters he faced in the sixth, seventh and eighth. Diekmann tossed 1-2-3 frames in the sixth and eighth -- aided by a great diving catch by Joe Ahrens at first base to start the eighth -- and worked out of a jam in the seventh.
Peterson (single) and Aaron Ogdahl (error) both reached to start the seventh, and Milroy's 4-5-6 hitters were due up. But Diekmann retired the next three batters via K, F-8 and F-3 scoring plays, getting the Cardinals off the field with a 5-3 lead.
Wilmont added to that cushion in the eighth on back-to-back RBI singles from Kremer and Saufley, plating Scheidt (walk) and Stoll (single), respectively. Those run-producing base hits increased the Cardinals' lead to 7-3 heading into the ninth.
Dominic Dolan tagged a lead-off double to left-center and later scored on an error to make it 7-4, but Diekmann completed his strong outing by inducing a ground-ball out and fanning the last two batters -- sending Wilmont back to the region playoffs.
"It's been a fun year, and we are happy to advance," summed up Saufley. "The region tournament creates a great atmosphere with the best-of-five series, and hopefully we can continue to play well and compete favorable against either Jackson or Fairmont."
R H E
Mil. 001 020 001 -- 4 11 2
Wil. 040 010 02X -- 7 10 3