AMATEUR BASEBALL: Saufley pitches Wilmont past Milroy 2-1 in Game 1
WILMONT -- Justin Saufley doesn't exactly consider himself a strikeout pitcher. But it is hard to call him anything else after he fanned 16 Irish batters as the Wilmont Cardinals beat out the Milroy Irish 2-1 Wednesday night in Wilmont in Game 1 of the Region 13C playoffs.
"I think it depends on the game," Saufley said. "I guess when I need to I'm usually able to reach back and get one."
The only blemish on the night for Saufley came in the top of the first after he allowed three straight hits, two singles and a double that scored the only run for Milroy. On the play, Wilmont threw out a runner trying to make it to third for the first out of the inning.
After giving up the run, Saufley buckled down and struck out the next two batters.
"I knew I had to keep throwing zeros up on the board," Saufley said. "I knew I had to bare down and keep them off the board, since they had their best pitcher going out there."
Wilmont picked up two singles in the bottom of the inning, but that was all the offense they could muster before Milroy's Isaac Dolan shut down the Cardinals.
The top of the second started better for Saufley, with the Wilmont pitcher picking up two more strikeouts before getting the third Milroy batter to ground out to end the inning.
"Justin threw a good game," Wilmont coach Todd Rogers said. "But Isaac [Dolan] was throwing a good game too. It was a pitcher's duel."
The action slowed down for both sides until the bottom of the fourth when Saufley scored from third on a wild pitch by Dolan to tie the game at one. Wilmont was able to put together two hits in the inning, but none of them scored runs.
"We were hitting the ball pretty hard, but we weren't getting the base hits we needed," Rogers said. "[Dolan] was throwing well. We hit the ball, but they weren't falling for hits. I told them they had to hold their confidence and get in there and hit the ball. It is all in their heads."
The game became even moreso a pitcher's duel after Wilmont tied the game, with Saufley and Dolan striking out batters left and right.
"My curveball was pretty good tonight," Saufley said. "I put a little more juice on my fastball when I needed to. I had to pitch out of a lot of jams tonight since a lot of guys got on base. I had to kind of bare down and get them out. Luckily, Steven [Kremer] and I worked well together and we came out on top."
Wilmont would break the tie in the bottom of the eighth on a one-out single from Joe Abrens which would score a run from second.
In the top of the ninth, Saufley struck out the first two Milroy batters, but controversy on a called strike by the umpire caused the tensions to rise in both dugouts.
"I was just kind of focusing on Steven and focusing on the mit," Saufley said. "I could hear it, but I wasn't focusing on it. It kind of fueled me too I guess. It helped me reach back and put something extra on my pitches."
Milroy got a man on off a double from Tyler Peterson, but it never crossed the plate, as Saufley forced the next Irish batter to groun out to the infield to end the game and put the finishing touches on his complete-game effort.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series between Wilmont (19-5) and Milroy will be Saturday at 3 p.m. in Milroy.
In other Region 13C playoff action, Fairmont defeated Minneota 14-1 in seven innings, Luverne beat Pipestone 8-7 and the game between Hadley and Jackson at Jackson was postponed until today at 7:30 p.m. due to inclement weather.
R H E
Milroy 100 000 000 -- 1 8 0
Wilmont 000 100 01X -- 2 10 1
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
may be reached at 376-7335.