AMATEUR BASEBALL: Saufley stymies Mudhens, Wilmont advances to Gopher League finals
WILMONT -- Jay Scheidt can barely even throw a baseball right now, so he's relying mostly on his legs.
That's OK, because with Justin Saufley on the mound -- again -- Scheidt and the rest of Wilmont's amateur baseball team didn't need to do much on Friday, anyway.
Making his third appearance in less than a week, Saufley carved up Minneota for 13 strikeouts and pushed Wilmont into Sunday's Gopher League tournament final with an 11-1 victory over the Mudhens.
"We're 100 times more confident when Saufley's on the mound," said the designated hitter Scheidt, who has had to stay out of the field since injuring his throwing shoulder.
"Saufley has just been fantastic. We feel like we can beat any team in the state of Minnesota when he's pitching."
Scheidt still contributed all he could with his legs, scoring three runs and stealing four bases.
"The shoulder's in rough shape right now -- I can probably throw about 15 feet," he said. "It really hurts every time I swing, but I wanted to be out there playing because we're one loss away from elimination."
That may be so, but the Cardinals (18-10) are now also two wins away from a Gopher League championship. The final is scheduled for a 2 p.m. first pitch at Luverne, and Wilmont must take two games in a row since it advanced out of the loser's bracket.
Saufley has been a big reason why. He pitched all nine frames to beat Hadley on Sunday, and he came on in relief for 2 1-3 innings on Wednesday against Pipestone.
"Obviously, pitching a lot last week, the fastball wasn't going to be there," Saufley said.
Luckily, he barely needed it in his complete-game effort on Friday, instead using his offspeed pitches to confound the Mudhens and scatter seven hits.
"I just went to the changeup and the curveball with two strikes and got a lot of strikeouts," he said.
Saufley's only hiccup was a solo home run by Minneota's Jason Myhre in the seventh -- when the game was already well in hand.
Adam Diekmann batted 3-for-4 with a trio of RBIs and Nate Stoll (4-for-5) drove home the game-ending run to induce the 10-run rule in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Since being handcuffed 3-1 by Milroy in the opening round of the tournament, Wilmont has rattled off 37 runs in four games to work its way back to the finals.
Scheidt started the Cardinals off by reaching on an error and stealing his way to third base. Steven Kremer (two RBIs) drove Scheidt home for the first of Wilmont's 16 hits on four different Mudhen hurlers.
Wilmont tagged Danny Hennen for four runs, although only one of them was earned (three errors helped the Cardinals' cause). Brian Harberts gave up three runs and Wilmont scored another pair on each Tyson Sonnenburg and Justin Greenwood.
Adam Diekmann cracked a two-run single and Kremer had a sacrifice fly in the third inning to make it 4-0.
Scheidt singled, stole his fourth base and scored his third run in the sixth inning off a deep sac fly by Saufley to left-center field.
Josh Wasmund ripped an RBI double to the left-field line, Joe Ahrens knocked a run in on a groundout and Wilmont led, 7-1.
The Cardinals put up a pair of two-spots in the seventh and eighth frames. Nick Ahrens doubled to score Stoll and Diekmann brought him around with a single -- then Joe Ahrens and Stoll each had RBI base hits to shallow left to close the books.
"The bats are working pretty good right now -- obviously, we scored about 40 runs in the last four games," Saufley said. "We've got Jay back leading off and he seems to score all of our runs. He's so fast and he wreaks havoc for the other teams."
He certainly did on Friday, though he favored his right shoulder while dashing around the basepaths. A doctor's visit will have to wait, though -- at least until the Cardinals' year is finished.
"I'm going to go after the season," Scheidt said. "I'm kind of scared to go to the doctor, because I don't think he's going to say very good things."
R H E
Min. 000 000 10 -- 1 7 3
Wil. 130 003 22 -- 11 16 1