SWU nips Edgerton, 4-3 (Wildcats advance to Section 3A tournament with play-in victory)
HERON LAKE -- With solid pitching from James Anderson and a stout defensive effort, the Southwestern United Wildcats defeated the Edgerton Flying Dutchmen, 4-3, Wednesday afternoon in the Section 3A play-in baseball contest.
The Wildcats advance to the double-elimination Section 3A tournament and will face Wabasso at noon on Saturday in Milroy.
With the loss, Edgerton ends its season with a 3-13 record.
"This was a win or go home situation, and we got the job done," SWU head coach Tim Owen said following the game. "It doesn't have to be pretty, although James (Anderson) pitched very well."
Anderson, who was in control from the first pitch, allowed two earned runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking none to pick up the victory.
"We were out (at the park) at two o'clock, so my arm was good and warm," Anderson said. "I started off with fastballs in the first inning and then changed it up in the second to keep them off balance."
While Anderson was hitting the zone, his defense was stellar behind him, especially in the early innings.
Anderson's first offering of the contest was hit sharply toward second base and appeared to be heading to center field for a single. But Wildcat shortstop Kirk McBreen stretched out and snared the drive, robbing D.J. Berning of a base hit.
"You have to give SWU a lot credit, especially the defense," Edgerton head coach Jeremy Tallum said. "They made some outstanding plays, and Anderson pitched a great game."
McBreen's acrobatic play quickly gave the Wildcats the momentum to shut the Flying Dutchmen down through three innings as Anderson faced the minimum six batters.
"The defense was really on today," Anderson said. "Nothing got past McBreen, and everyone was very focused defensively."
Meanwhile, the Wildcats posted four runs in the first three frames.
Berning hit McBreen to open his tenure on the hill, and the Wildcats capitalized on the plunk. After stealing second base, McBreen scampered home on a double to left by Tyler Timko, and the Wildcats gained a quick 1-0 advantage.
McBreen started the third-inning rally with an infield single. The junior advanced to second base on a fielder's choice off the bat of Timko and was soon plated on a single up the middle from Anderson, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
SWU doubled their total moments later, as Mike Stenzel drove a 2-1 offering from Berning just over the fence near the foul pole in left field for a two-run home run.
With a 4-0 lead, the Wildcats appeared to be well on their way to an easy victory.
The Flying Dutchmen, however, had other notions and cut into the deficit with a run in the top of the fourth.
Berning started the rally with a sharp single to left. Marty Van Peursem and Levi Ossefoort followed suit, and the Flying Dutchmen had loaded the bases with no one out.
A 6-3 fielder's choice off the bat of Alex Elgersma pushed Berning across the plate to put Edgerton on the scoreboard. Unfortunately for the Flying Dutchmen, that was the only marker they could manage in the inning.
But Edgerton wasn't done and made a game of it with a pair of runs in the fifth inning.
After Berning was retired on a routine 6-3 play to open the frame, Van Peursem cranked a double to center and advanced to third on a single to left by Ossefoort -- giving Edgerton runners on the corners with one out. A pair of fielding errors allowed both players to score to make it a 4-3 ballgame.
"Give Anderson credit; he's a heck of a pitcher. Bases loaded with no one out in the fourth, and we only come away with one run; that's getting it done," Tallum said. "D.J. settled down after the third and gave us a chance to win. The kids showed a lot of character in battling back to within one in the sixth. Unfortunately, we just couldn't produce another run."
Anderson and the Wildcats buckled down in the seventh to retire the Flying Dutchmen in order and secure the play-in victory.
"We're a very young team, and while we're not looking to next year, we're hoping to use the playoffs to gain some experience," Owen said. "They'll be able to get some of that experience Saturday and get a feel for tournament play."
R H E
Edg. 000 120 0 -- 3 5 0
SWU 103 000 x -- 4 6 2