PREP BASEBALL: Rebels shut out Wildcats 8-0SLAYTON — Getting 19 players into the game Tuesday afternoon, the depth-filled and experienced Murray County Central Rebels put the finishing touches on the 2012 Red Rock Conference high school baseball championship with a clean 8-0 victory over the Southwestern United Wildcats.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
SLAYTON — Getting 19 players into the game Tuesday afternoon, the depth-filled and experienced Murray County Central Rebels put the finishing touches on the 2012 Red Rock Conference high school baseball championship with a clean 8-0 victory over the Southwestern United Wildcats.
MCC, which has 10 seniors on its 22-man roster, improves to 10-3 overall and 9-1 in conference action. Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin and Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove finished tied for second with identical 6-4 league marks.
“It’s a great accomplishment for our kids to win the conference championship,” summed up MCC head coach Tarry Boelter. “It’s certainly not an easy thing to do with the outstanding competition that our league has year in and year out. We shared the title with Adrian last year and won it outright this season, so our guys deserve some credit for playing good team baseball recently.”
Chris Halbur (five innings, five strikeouts and six walks) and Sam Erickson (two innings, two strikeouts and one walk) combined to twirl a two-hitter for MCC, and the Rebels scored a pair of runs in four separate innings to cruise to a shutout victory.
MCC’s defense was also sharp throughout, turning two nifty double plays and picking off two Wildcat base runners. First baseman James Dahlgren started a 3-6 double play in the third inning, while shortstop Nate Wieneke and second baseman Frank Spartz teamed up for a 6-4-3 twin killing to end the sixth.
“Those were two great plays by our infield,” Boelter said. “We are a good defensive team and typically make most of the routine plays. We played well in the field again today.”
Halbur picked a runner off first base and fanned a pair of batters in a scoreless top of the first, and the Rebels jumped on top with two runs in the bottom half of the frame.
Wieneke slugged a lead-off double to left-center before Austin Kluis (2-for-3) singled and Halbur was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Trent Carlson (2-for-3, four RBIs) then blasted a long two-run single to the fence in left-center, plating Wieneke and Kluis for a quick 2-0 MCC lead.
SWU’s Aaron Fest (three innings, one strikeout and no walks) retired the next three batters to escape further trouble and then hurled a scoreless second, inducing a trio of fly outs to left fielder Justin Jass — including a nice running catch in foul territory near the fence.
“Aaron pitched pretty well and probably shouldn’t have given up any runs,” SWU head coach Tim Owen said. “Two of MCC’s hits in the first inning were actually balls that we should have caught, while they scored two unearned runs in the third. We just didn’t make the plays, and that’s been a problem all year long for us.”
Halbur and Carlson reached on back-to-back Wildcat errors in the third, and designated hitter Nick Petersen singled to load the bases with no outs. Sam Nysetvold followed with an RBI single to left, driving in courtesy-runner Kyle Saner for a 3-0 Rebels’ lead.
Mitchell Reinsma, who was courtesy-running for Carlson (catcher), later scored on an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Ryan Erickson to put MCC up 4-0.
SWU, which had a runner aboard in every inning and left a total of eight men on base, collected its first hit when Mark Ferguson cracked a one-out single to left field in the top of the fourth.
A walk by Austin Liepold (three walks) and a fielder’s choice groundout by Jacob Post left the Wildcats with runners on the corners and two outs, but Halbur recorded an inning-ending strikeout to put the brakes on that threat.
“We didn’t have too many good at-bats today,” Owen said. “We did draw seven walks, but we couldn’t string a rally together. We swung at some balls out of the strike zone and didn’t capitalize when we had some chances to score.”
MCC increased its lead to 6-0 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, as Kluis singled and came around to score on an RBI single by Carlson. Saner scored another run after Halbur was hit by a pitch, hustling home on an RBI single by Dahlgren.
The Rebels then tacked on two more runs in the fifth. Ryan Erickson (single) and Kyle Vos (dropped third strike) both reached base to begin the inning.
Erickson scored from third when Wieneke hit a groundball that was misplayed, while Seth Bass (re-entering for Vos) scored from third on an RBI sacrifice fly by Carlson to give MCC an 8-0 advantage.
“It was nice to have an opportunity to play a lot of kids today,” Boelter said. “We actually clinched the conference title last week, so we were able to come out and play a little more relaxed than normal in this one. Lots of kids got at-bats late in the game, and that was a nice thing for those guys.”
SWU’s Riley Place (three innings, six strikeouts and no walks) struck out all three of the Rebels’ pinch-hitters that he faced in an impressive sixth inning on the mound.
Sam Erickson, who picked a runner off first base in the sixth prior to the double play, then preserved the shutout by fanning a pair of batters to finish the top of the seventh. Brady Meyer had reached on an error, and Jacob Olson — who walked on four pitches in both the third and fifth — was hit by a pitch, but both were stranded to end the game.
Jass smacked a two-out single to left field in the fifth inning for the Wildcats’ only other hit in the game.
MCC plays at Cedar Mountain/Comfrey Thursday, while SWU (2-15, 2-8) visits Windom next Tuesday.
R H E
SWU 000 000 0 — 0 2 4
MCC 202 220 X — 8 9 2