Arrows pierce Eagles in Section 3AA finalsMARSHALL — Utilizing a clutch pitching performance by lanky junior Bryce Beyers, along with several stellar defensive plays and a three-hit, three-run first inning, the Pipestone Area Arrows are returning to the state baseball tournament for the fourth consecutive time. The Arrows defeated New Ulm, 4-2, in the Section 3AA championship game Thursday at Legion Field to earn their way back to the state tourney, which will be played in St. Cloud, June 12-13.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
MARSHALL — Utilizing a clutch pitching performance by lanky junior Bryce Beyers, along with several stellar defensive plays and a three-hit, three-run first inning, the Pipestone Area Arrows are returning to the state baseball tournament for the fourth consecutive time.
The Arrows defeated New Ulm, 4-2, in the Section 3AA championship game Thursday at Legion Field to earn their way back to the state tourney, which will be played in St. Cloud, June 12-13.
Now sporting an overall record of 19-7, PA needed to play a solid second game after the Eagles snapped a 2-2 tie in the first game and pulled away for a 7-3 victory.
That win by New Ulm forced another game in the double elimination playoff, giving the Arrows their first loss. PA had defeated the Eagles earlier in the tournament (4-2 at Windom, May 28) sending New Ulm to the loser’s bracket.
Playing error free baseball, the tradition-rich South Central Conference school worked its way through the bracket and earned the right to challenge the three-time defending section champions in the battle for the state tournament.
A victory by PA in game one would have ended New Ulm¹s season. A victory by the Eagles, however, would force a second game to decide the section champion.
After not playing its best in that first game, the well-balanced Arrows came back with a spirited opening inning and set the tone early in Thursday’s second contest.
“It’s never easy,” PA head coach Rick Zollner said while the Arrows were waiting to receive their gold medals. “We came back with a lot of energy to start the second game — both in the field and at the plate.”
That energy was generated by a leaping catch by senior shortstop Greg Quist for the game’s second out — and then after a nice play by third baseman Chris Dougherty had retired the Eagles in order — the Arrows came up to bat.
PA 4, New Ulm 2 Championship
After getting three nice infield plays to start the game, PA leadoff hitter Jon Schelhaas ripped the first pitch up the middle and the Arrows had a man on.
Doug Mead, who had gone 3-for-4 in the first game, smacked the ball hard to third base and the Arrows capitalized on a quick break. Instead of a possible double play, the throw sailed into right field, allowing Schelhaas to reach third with Mead safe at first.
After Mead easily stole second, Greg Quist (2-for-3) tagged a two-RBI double, plating both Schelhaas and Mead. Clean-up batter Darrell Stout followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Quist from second.
With no outs, the Arrows had a burst to a 3-0 lead, quickly recovering from their defeat in the first game.
“After losing the first game, we really stressed effort,” Zollner said. “Quist had taken the pitching loss in that game, but he was really positive between the games. He did a great job of pumping everyone up and getting them ready to play.”
After Dougherty reached base on an error (hard-hit ball right at the third baseman), Brandan Alfson’s bunt advanced Stout to third and Dougherty to second.
The Arrows, however, were unable to push across any additional runs as Eagle pitcher Garrett Fischer worked out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.
New Ulm scored a run on a pair of hits in the top of the second, but a pair of dandy plays by the keystone combination of Quist and second baseman Alex Darveaux ended the inning without further damage.
Then Beyers worked a 1-2-3 third, starting with his first strikeout and then inducing two more groundball outs.
“Bryce did a fantastic job pitching for us,” praised Zollner. “He kept the ball down low and our infielders did a nice job with those ground balls. Holding New Ulm to just three hits is a remarkable performance.”
The Arrows, meanwhile, were hitting flyballs to the Eagles, as Stout, Dougherty and Alfson all flied out in the bottom of the third.
Beyers then came through with a superb pitching performance in the top of the fourth, as a leadoff double by New Ulm’s Kyle Fischer and an Arrow throwing error gave the Eagles another run. But a pair of strikeouts by Beyers, along with another groundball assist by Darveaux ended the threat.
After the Arrows were retired in order again in the bottom of the inning, Beyers put the Eagles down in similar fashion, as a strikeout, a flyout to Sammy Schneider (left field) and a groundout to Dougherty made the top of the fifth go by quickly for New Ulm.
The Arrows added an important insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Stout (2-for-3) delivered his second RBI of the game, doubling home Quist, who had reached on New Ulm’s fourth error of the game.
Leading, 4-2, Beyers and the Arrow defense were six outs from the state tournament.
A pair of groundball outs by Quist and one by Dougherty gave Beyers another 1-2-3 inning and the Arrows came up to bat in the bottom of the sixth.
After Robbie Forde drew a one-out walk, Schneider looped a single to center and PA had a pair of runners on base. But Dougherty¹s screaming line shot was caught by Eagle third baseman Wade French and Forde was doubled off second.
Once again, Beyers went to the hill for the Arrows — three outs away.
French tagged a long fly ball that Schneider tracked down in left for the first out.
But Eagle Luke Altman was plunked with a fast ball, giving New Ulm a runner on first with the tying run at the plate. Beyers induced a groundball to short and Quist got the force out at second.
With two down, the Eagles sent pinch-hitter Zach More to the plate. More had delivered a key pinch-hit RBI in the first game. But this time, his hard liner was caught by a leaping Dougherty — and the Arrows were state-tournament bound once again.
“The kids just played so well in that second game — all of them,” exclaimed Zollner. “We needed to make every play and get really good pitching to beat a team like New Ulm.”
The Eagles, who moved down from Class AAA this year, finish their season with a remarkable record of 22-3, with two of the losses coming to the Arrows in the tournament.
The Arrows will play the Section 5AA champion at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
R H E
New Ulm 010 100 0 — 2 3 4
PA 300 010 x — 4 7 1
New Ulm 7, PA 3
The Eagles received a stellar all-around game from junior Kyle Fischer in the first game.
On the mound, Fischer retired 11 straight Arrows — including putting PA down 1-2-3 in the second, third and fourth innings — and at the plate, he was a perfect 3-for-3.
Fischer struck out a total of 11 batters in the game and yielded only one walk. He recorded all three Arrow outs with a K in a wild sixth inning, in which PA loaded the bases — with one out — but failed to score.
The Arrows did touch Fischer for 10 hits, including three each in the first and fifth innings, along with a pair in both the sixth and seventh. But PA was unable to score more than a single run in any inning.
New Ulm clinched the victory by plating four runs on four hits and three Arrow errors in the top of the sixth.
PA scored in the first inning on three consecutive hits — all to right field — by Mead, Stout and Dougherty. Stout’s RBI double scored Mead, who had singled and stole second.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Arrows tied the game at 2-2 when Schneider ended Fischer’s 11-batter streak with a double to left. Mead¹s RBI single plated Schneider and the game was tied.
Trailing 7-2, in the bottom of the seventh, PA rallied briefly and scored another run.
Mead singled to left (his third hit of the game) and later scored from second on a two-out RBI single by Dougherty (his second hit). French then relieved Kyle Fischer and tossed one pitch, which was smacked by Alfson — right at Garrett Fischer for a 6-3 play to end the game.
Quist pitched well for the Arrows, striking out six and walking just two (also hitting one batter), while scattering nine hits. He had a pair of big strikeouts to get the Arrows out of a jam in the fifth inning, keeping the Eagles off the board in that frame.
R H E
New Ulm 101 001 4 — 7 11 1
PA 100 010 1 — 3 10 3