AMATEUR BASEBALL: A's tie Game 1 in the 9th and win it 4-1 in 12 innings
WILMONT -- The Pipestone A's pulled out a 4-1 win over the Wilmont Cardinals in 12 innings Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Region 13C best-of-three series, which will decided who goes to state.
The game started off with Wilmont pitcher Justin Saufley dominating the Pipestone batters and striking out three of the first four batters he faced.
In the bottom of the inning, Wilmont's Jay Scheidt picked up a lead-off single only to have A's pitcher Sam Schneider get Steve Kremer to hit into a double play to clear the bases. Schneider got out of the inning on a groundball by Saufley.
Saufley went to work again in the top of the second, striking out the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Pipestone's Jordan Karels. The inning was kept alive by a Cardinal's error, but Saufley struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Wilmont picked up the first run of the game on a home run by Lucas Henning in the bottom of the second.
Saufley continued to strike out Pipestone batters, fanning 10 A's in the next six innings.
"Saufley is a beast. He is unbelievable," Pipestone closer Nate Alfson said. "I think he threw 165 pitches or so. He does a good job of keeping us off balance and sometimes making us look silly."
Schnieder matched Saufley inning for inning, never letting the Cardinals add to their one-run lead.
"We got to hit the ball," Rogers said. "And again, we have to score more than one run."
Neither team put up much of a fight until the top of the ninth when Pipestone tied the game at one off an RBI double by Jordan Karels.
"I don't know what to say," Wilmont coach Todd Rogers said. "We just have to play better defense. But they are a good ball team. Justin [Saufley] threw a good ball game and all their guys threw well, too."
The bottom of the ninth saw Pipestone closer Alfson step in and shut down the Wilmont offense, striking out the side to force the game into extra innings.
"All year long I've been our closer, so it is kind of my spot," Alfson said. "The last few games I've been putting too much pressure on myself to have to win the ballgame. So this time I just came in and tried to stay relaxed. I just tried to do my job.
"As a closer you always want to go in thinking you don't want to give up a run. You try to keep the hitters off balance and off bases as much as you can."
Saufley came back in to pitch the top of the 10th, giving up one single before his defense completed a double play to get the last two outs of the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Alfson picked up a strike out before allowing a single by Schiedt. But Alfson would work himself out of the inning by fanning the next two batters.
"It is comfortable when you have a defense behind you who is making plays," Alfson said. "It allows me to throw strikes.
"In your head you're thinking, 'No runners, no scored runs.' You also have to think 'Keep the runners off the bases and throw strikes.'"
The top of the 11th saw Saufley once again taking the mound. He struck out the first batter before getting the next two A's to ground out.
Alfson continued to baffle Cardinal batters, striking out three more while giving up just one walk in the bottom of the inning.
The action picked up in the top of the 12th, with Pipestone getting two men on off a single and an error by Wilmont's infield. The A's next batter, Colin Taubert, hit an RBI double to give Pipestone their first lead of the game.
But the A's weren't done there. After Saufley picked up the first out of the inning, he threw a ball in the dirt that his catcher couldn't control, which allowed a Pipestone runner to score from third and put Pipestone up 3-1.
Greg Quist came up to bat next, hitting an RBI single off of Saufley to score another run for the A's and pushing their lead to 4-1.
"In the end, after you see him three, four times, you learn to put the ball in play," Alfson said. "We just find ways to put the ball in play. We scored runs and capitalized on their errors. But credit to Saufley though for what he did."
After walking the next batter, Wilmont brought in Henning to relieve Saufley. Henning walked the first batter he faced, but was then able to get Pipestone to hit into a double play to end the inning.
Alfson came in to finish the 12th and struck out two batters before getting the third to flyout to end the game.
"We're going to have our draftee start Friday," Rogers said. "We have to score runs for him and give him some support."
The two teams will square off in Game 2 Friday in Pipestone.
In other amateur baseball action, Fairmont scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to knock off Jackson 12-11. The two teams play again in Game 2 of the series Friday night in Jackson.
R H E
A'S 000 000 001 003 -- 4 11 0
CARDS 010 000 000 000 -- 1 8 2
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
may be reached at 376-7335.