Section baseball: Luverne, Windom Area roll into semis
WINDOM — Luverne and Windom Area, two high school baseball programs that saw state tournament action in 2013, are looking like pretty good bets to make return trips.
There is still much baseball to be played before Sections 3A and 3AA crown 2014 champions, but the Cardinals and the Eagles sharpened their talons over the weekend and stand undefeated heading into semifinal action.
In the championship bracket of Section 3A Tuesday (May 27), Windom Area plays Minneota/Lincoln HI in a 5 p.m. semifinal contest at Sacred Heart. Also at Sacred Heart, Springfield and Lakeview contend at 7 p.m.
In the elimination bracket today, MACCRAY faces Canby at 5 p.m. in Montevideo. Mountain Lake Area and Wabasso play at 5 p.m. in Windom.
In the Section 3AA championship bracket Tuesday, Southwest Conference rivals Marshall and Luverne play a 5 p.m. game in Marshall. And at 7 p.m., also in Marshall, Fairmont takes on Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta.
In the elimination bracket Tuesday, New London-Spicer plays Benson at 7 p.m. in Montevideo and St. James plays New Ulm at 7 p.m. in Windom.
Here’s a rundown of the area baseball action thus far:
In first-round games Saturday, MACCRAY beat Yellow Medicine East 10-7, Minneota/Lincoln HI beat Renville County West 6-4, Canby beat Lac qui Parle Valley 2-0, Lakeview topped Central Minnesota Christian 11-5, Springfield beat Southwestern United 11-0 in five innings, Mountain Lake Area beat Murray County Central 16-0 in five innings, Windom Area defeated Edgerton/Southwest Christian 8-1 and Wabasso eliminated Adrian 3-1 in 10 innings.
In the second round, also Saturday, Minneota/Lincoln HI beat MACCRAY 2-1, Lakeview beat Canby 6-5 in nine innings, Springfield edged Mountain Lake Area 12-11 and Windom Area tripped Wabasso 8-1.
Saturday’s results marked the conclusion of a Hall of Fame coaching career for Murray County Central’s Tarry Boelter, who was inducted into the Minnesota State Baseball Coaches Association hall last October after winning his 350th career game.
Saturday was a tough day for the Adrian Dragons, who couldn’t get a victory for Logan Rogers, who pitched nine and one-third innings while striking out 13 Wabasso batters. Only one of the three runs Wabasso scored were earned. Both teams were held to four hits.
It was a much better day for Windom Area, which broke open a scoreless game with Edgerton/Southwest Christian by scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Eagles then added three more in the fifth.
In the Wabasso game, Windom Area erupted quickly, scoring two runs in each of the first four innings.
Pitching and defense was superb in the victory against Edgerton/Southwest Christian, said WAHS head coach Brad Schlomann.
“And our bats eventually caught up for us,” he said.
In the Wabasso contest, starting pitcher Sam Huska hurled a one-hitter, walking just one and striking out nine.
“A dominating performance by Sam,” Schlomann said.
Huska’s performance came on the heels of another fine pitching stint by Eagles Taylor Quiring and Wyatt Stevens in the first game. In that one, Quiring shut out the Dutchmen through four innings on three hits, and Stevens allowed just one run in three innings of work.
On Sunday, Schlomann said he was still undecided on who he would start against Minneota/Lincoln HI, but that it would probably be his ace, Huska.
“He only threw 88 pitches on Saturday, and not under stress,” Schlomann said.
The veteran Eagles skipper believes his team is in a good spot right now.
“At this point I’m confident that the kids will continue to play well. They love the game, they love being around each other, and they love to do things the right way,” Schlomann said.
In first-round games Saturday, Marshall beat Redwood Valley 8-0, New London-Spicer beat Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop 2-0, Benson beat Montevideo 2-0, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta beat Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove 7-0, Fairmont topped Jackson County Central 15-1 in five inings, St. James beat Pipestone Area 13-7, New Ulm beat Worthington 13-2 in five innings and Luverne ousted Blue Earth Area 12-3.
In the second round, also Saturday, Marshall beat New London-Spicer 12-1 in five innings, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta beat Benson 8-4, Fairmont drubbed St. James 15-1 in five innings and Luverne topped New Ulm 8-3.
Worthington’s game with New Ulm — the tournaments’ No. 2 seed in the South — went badly from the start. The Eagles scored 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning and added three more in the second en route to their 13-2 five-inning victory over seventh-seeded Worthington.
“They jumped on us in the blink of an eye,” said Trojans head coach Stacy Sauerbrei.
The Trojans’ ace pitcher, senior Ryan Lee, allowed 13 hits and walked three batters over those two innings. Roque Soto pitched the last two frames for WHS, allowing no runs and one hit. But the damage had been done.
“They hit the ball hard,” Sauerbrei said of the New Ulm hitters. “We hit the ball hard, too. I think we only struck out two times.”
Wyatt Peterson got the win for New Ulm, allowing four hits in all.
Despite the setback, Sauerbrei said the season was successful in some key respects. The team’s seniors, he said, demonstrated excellent leadership. And a lot of young players received experience they will bring with them next spring.
Meanwhile, Luverne — which copped a consolation state championship last June — continues to look like a winner. In their first game Saturday, the Cardinals (17-4) got a grand slam home run from Josh Slieter en route to a 12-3 win over Blue Earth Area, then a 4-for-4 plate performance from Zane Hiller in the 8-3 victory over New Ulm.
Kendall Meyer was the winning pitcher, going the distance while allowing four hits and striking out five.
Luverne’s matchup Tuesday with Marshall pits the top two Southwest Conference teams. The teams split in their regular season matchups, with Luverne winning 10-1 and Marshall winning 7-1.