AMATEUR BASEBALL: Adrian advances past TracyADRIAN — Veteran pitcher Kevin Nowotny twirled a complete-game gem Wednesday night, leading the Adrian A’s amateur baseball team to a 4-1 victory over the sixth-seeded Tracy Express in a well-played Gopher League Tournament elimination game.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
ADRIAN — Veteran pitcher Kevin Nowotny twirled a complete-game gem Wednesday night, leading the Adrian A’s amateur baseball team to a 4-1 victory over the sixth-seeded Tracy Express in a well-played Gopher League Tournament elimination game.
The second-seeded A’s, who improve to 20-11, will now play the loser of tonight’s Hadley-Wilmont game Friday night (7:30 p.m.) at a site to be determined. Hadley was scheduled to host Wilmont in Pipestone Wednesday night, but that game was postponed due to rain.
It was rainy — and cold — in Adrian, as a light rain fell throughout the game. However, the weather conditions didn’t have much of an effect on either team defensively.
Adrian committed the game’s only error in the top of the sixth inning, allowing Tracy to break a scoreless tie and take a 1-0 lead. The A’s, though, countered with four runs in the bottom half on their way to the victory.
Nowotny (nine innings, no earned runs) scattered eight hits and issued just two walks. He only struck out two batters, but consistently pounded the strike zone and kept Tracy off-balance for most of the game.
“That was a great pitching performance by Kevin,” Adrian manager Levi Bullerman said after the game. “He knows how to pitch, as he works quickly and keeps the defense active and involved by throwing a lot of strikes. He pitches to contact, and our defense stepped up and made the plays.”
In eight starts this season, Nowotny is 7-0 with an earned run average of nearly 2.00. Adrian won the game in which Nowotny earned a no-decision in.
Nowotny, Munsch both sharp on the mound
Nowotny and Tracy’s Jake Munsch (seven innings, three strikeouts, five walks, four earned runs) were locked in a pitcher’s duel throughout the game, especially early on.
Tracy nearly scored in the top of the first inning, as Aaron Walling led off with a single to left field and advanced to second on Andy Lanoue’s sacrifice bunt. After an infield popout to first baseman Joe Kruger, Munsch (2-for-4) helped his own cause with a two-out single to center field.
Matt Gades, though, fired a strike to Bullerman, who applied the tag to cut down Walling — attempting to score from second — at the plate and end the inning.
Nowotny then worked perfect second and third innings, inducing four groundouts and a pair of flyouts.
Adrian had a pair of threats through three innings, as Cody Kontz (three walks) drew a lead-off walk in the bottom of the first. Bullerman followed with a sacrifice bunt, and Jordon Kontz was hit by a pitch, but Munsch worked out of trouble by getting the next two batters to hit into a fielder’s choice (4-6 and 6-4).
Kruger led off the bottom of the second with a single to right field, but Munsch recorded an out on each of the next three at-bats and then induced three straight groundouts in hurling a 1-2-3 third.
Munsch also faced just three batters in both the fourth and fifth frames. The Express turned a slick 4-6-3 double play (Andrew Suby to Lanoue to Kyle Mathiowetz) in the fourth, and Munsch picked a runner of first base in the fifth — erasing a one-out walk to Greg Quist and a one-out single by Brian Harms (2-for-4), respectively.
Meanwhile, Nowotny worked around a one-out walk to Bryan Nikkel and a two-out single by Jason MacKinnon in the fourth. Nowotny then registered his first strikeout to end the fifth, stranding Mathiowetz — who cracked a lead-off single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Eric Hendrickx — at third base.
Tracy scores in sixth; Adrian answers with four runs in bottom half
Tracy caught a break to begin the top of the sixth, as Lanoue slapped a lead-off single to right field. Jordon Kontz (right fielder) attempted to throw out Lanoue at first base, but the throw went out of play and Lanoue was awarded third base.
Nikkel followed with an RBI single to right-center, plating Lanoue to put the Express up 1-0.
But Nowotny got tough after that, retiring the next three batters to keep the damage to a minimum.
Adrian then batted around in the bottom of the sixth, with Cody Kontz coaxing a four-pitch, lead-off walk to get things going.
Bullerman smacked a single to right field before Jordon Kontz was again hit by a pitch, loading the bases for clean-up hitter Glen Kruger.
Kruger was also hit by a pitch, permitting Cody Kontz to trot home with the tying run. Two batters later — after Munsch recorded his first strikeout — Joe Kruger drew a walk to drive in Bullerman.
Jason Stubbe then delivered a key two-run double to deep center field, scoring both Jordon Kontz and Glen Kruger to increase’s Adrian’s 2-1 lead to 4-1.
“We responded well in that inning and got guys on base in a variety of ways,” Bullerman said. “We talk about getting on base any way possible, and when you can do that, you give some guys chances to deliver a big hit. That’s just what we did, and Jason came through for us.”
Munsch retired the final two batters to end the sixth and stranded two more runners on base in the seventh. Luke Walling pitched the eighth for Tracy, and Nikkel (catcher) threw a runner out trying to steal second to end that frame.
However, the A’s — it turned out — didn’t need any insurance runs. Nowotny closed the door on Tracy in the final three innings, retiring the first two batters he faced in each to keep the Express off the bases.
Troy Kepler and Munsch reached on two-out singles in the seventh and eighth, respectively, and Taylor Hagberg drew a two-out walk in the ninth. Tracy, though, never strung anything together, as Nowotny executed his pitches and completed his gem.
“Our defense was really solid behind Kevin, and so was Tracy’s defense,” Bullerman said. “With the weather the way it was, I was surprised that both teams fielded and threw the ball as well as they did. It was a well-played game.”
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Tracy 000 001 000 — 1 8 0
Adrian 000 004 00x — 4 5 1