WILMONT -- Timing is everything in baseball.
Pitchers win by disrupting the timing of hitters. Hitters win by not allowing themselves to be disrupted.
For a team, the worst timing of all is to be in a scoring slump during the playoff season. The Wilmont Cardinals are in such a mini-slump, and they'll need to recover quickly in order to gain entry into the amateur baseball state tournament.
Already, two teams from the region -- Luverne (19-7) and Fairmont (23-4) -- are in. Wilmont and Hadley are vying to become the third and final team from the area to earn a state berth. While Luverne and Fairmont begin a best-of-three series Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Herb Wolf Field in Fairmont for seeding purposes, Wilmont and Hadley begin their own best-of-three clash at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Wilmont for survival purposes.
"We've gotta play better ball than we have been playing, that's for sure," said Wilmont coach Todd Rogers, looking ahead to the series.
The Cardinals lost two straight to Luverne, getting shut out through the first seven innings in the opener Wednesday in a 4-3 decision. Then on Friday, they lost again by a single run, 3-2, as the Cardinals went eight innings before scoring their two runs in the top of the ninth. They collected just six hits in the first game, seven in the second.
If games were limited to eighth and ninth innings, Wilmont might have no reason to worry. But they don't play them that way.
"We've had the runners, but we just couldn't get the key hits," Rogers said.
Hadley, on the other hand, didn't set the world on fire in its three-game Region 13C series with Fairmont. The Buttermakers lost the opener 9-2, won the second game 9-8 and lost the third 15-3.
The Buttermakers are 21-14 on the season. The Cardinals are 19-5. Wilmont entered the playoff season as the No. 1 seed in the Gopher League, and Hadley was the No. 3 seed.