Prep baseball: Windom Area comes up one rally short
SACRED HEART — Twice Windom Area rallied from being down to its final out to tie the game Saturday in its Section 3A semifinal against Springfield.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, that was one time too few.
After scoring with two outs in both the bottom of the seventh and 11th innings to knot things up, Windom Area saw the Tigers push two runs across in the top of the 12th. It looked for a bit like the Eagles might have another rally in them when they put the tying run on second in the home half of the frame but, for the first time all day, they couldn’t come up with the big hit they needed. The result was a 5-3 loss that sent them into the elimination bracket.
“I think that shows a lot of character in our guys; to come back from being down to our final out two times,” Eagles’ coach Brad Schlomann said. “These guys have played awesome all year. I just feel bad for them right now because they did fight so hard.”
A big part of what kept Windom Area in the game was a gutsy performance by sophomore Sam Huska on the mound. He took over for Taylor Quiring with nobody out in the third inning and his team trailing 2-0 and proceeded to pitch the rest of the way, giving his team 10 innings of work.
Equally as impressive, however, was the job done by Springfield pitcher Dylan Wersal. A senior, he went the distance, giving his team 12 innings to pick up the win.
The Tigers got single runs in both the second and third to take a 2-0 lead. Jacob Gotto grounded out to push Devin Nielson, who had reached on an error, across to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third for Windom Area.
The real drama began in the seventh. Springfield looked poised to add to its lead in the top of the inning when it put runners on second and third with nobody out. A flyout to the infield retired one batter before a heads up fielding play resulted in the second out being made at the plate on a fielder’s choice. Huska induced another flyball to the infield for the third out and the score remained 2-1 in favor of the Tigers going to the last of the inning.
Wersal retired the first two batters without much issue. To that point in the game, he’d allowed only two hits and the only Eagles’ lone run was unearned. That changed when Jack Mellstrom restored hope with a double into the gap in right-center.
Andrew Larson followed that with a single to right that sent Mellstrom wheeling around third and heading for home. He beat the throw to knot it up at 2-2. Nielson continued the rally with a single and, when Jeff Pfeffer dropped in his team’s fourth straight hit, Larson raced for home. The throw from center was in time, however, and the game went to extra innings.
Huska continued to do work on the hill. He allowed just one hit over the first three extra frames to bring his scoreless innings streak to eight.
“He put his head above the rest about mid-season and really just took over as our top pitcher,” Schlomann said. “For just being a sophomore, he shows a lot of savvy on the mound.”
Much to the dismay of Windom Area, Wersal matched that showing, allowing just one hit himself, and Springfield was the first team to take advantage.
Tim Krueger led off the 11th with a single and got into scoring position with a stolen base. He was then replaced by pinch runner Tyler Vogel, who circled around to put his team back up by one on a single by Jordan Vogel.
For the second time, the Tigers needed just one more out with nobody on base to advance. For the second time, Windom Area didn’t let that happen.
Bryton Syverson got his first hit of the ballgame with a two-out double to right field. Again, Mellstrom came through in clutch when he slapped a single to drive Syverson home and tie the game again.
But, as quickly as the momentum had shifted to the Eagles, it went back to the Tigers. Three Windom Area errors in the top of the 12th allowed two runs to score and Springfield to carry a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the inning. Nielson led off the inning with a single before Pfeffer was hit by a pitch. Gotto bunted them both up a spot, putting runners on second and third with one out.
Wersal buckled down. He got a flyout to second and a strikeout, his fourth of the game, to end the threat and the ballgame.
“Resilience’ is the word that comes to mind,” Schlomann said. “Two times we were down to our last out and we kept coming back. Springfield’s a quality team and, really, it was just a great high school baseball game. It was two great teams that played a great game.”
Huska took the tough loss for Windom Area, going 10 innings and allowing just two earned runs on nine hits while striking out five. Wersal surrendered two earned runs on nine hits, struck out four and walked two over 12 innings of work.
Mellstrom led the Eagles at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Nielson was 2-for-5 with a run scored. Jordan Vogel paced the Springfield showing, going 3-for-6 with an RBI.
Windom Area will now try to play back into the section title game. It will play at 5 p.m. tomorrow against Wabasso in Marshall. The winner will take on Springfield for a trip to state on Saturday.
“A lot of good teams have come back to win the section after losing one,” Schlomann said.
R H E
Springfield 011 000 000 012 — 5 14 1
Windom Area 001 000 100 010 — 3 9 3