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Adrian bows out of American Legion state tournament

ELY -- Facing a six-run deficit in the third inning Saturday, Adrian had no intention of giving up.

Playing in the consolation bracket at the American Legion Division II state baseball tournament in Ely, Adrian rallied, but fell short in a 12-5 defeat. With the loss, Adrian was eliminated -- ending its season with a 22-9 overall record.

"I'm real proud," Adrian head coach Greg Kruger said. "We finished 22-9, and that's the best the legion has ever done in Adrian."

Adrian was defeated by Jordan 7-1 in the opening round, while La Crescent lost to Ely, 4-2 -- pitting the two teams against each other Saturday.

"Obviously last night, playing underneath the lights put us in a little different scenario, and the kids weren't used to it," La Crescent head coach Jamie Muller said. "But today the kids came back after a tough loss and did what they needed to do."

Even with his team rebounding with a victory, Muller said his team still hadn't played up to it's potential.

"We didn't play the way we played all season," Muller said. "We had a couple of errors again. Offensively, we showed that we do have bats that can produce, but we still didn't execute like we've played all season."

After stranding a runner in the first inning, the La Crescent offense exploded in the second. Ryan McCallson doubled off Adrian starter Brandon Diekmann to start the rally. Chad Walleser reached on an error and Andrew Helland drove in McCallson to give La Crescent a 1-0 lead.

Brandon Verthein, Ryan Minegar, Eriah Hayes and Matt Lorenz each had an RBI as La Crescent sent 10 batters to the plate while Post 595 jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

"Giving up that six spot in the second killed us," Kruger said.

While it appeared that Adrian was going to pack it up early, Tyler Vaske came to the rescue.

Leading off the top of the third, Vaske pounced on a Verthein pitch and drove it deep to left-center field.

"It was a hard line drive towards center, and it went between the left and center fielders, and it just started off from there," Vaske said.

Being aggressive, Vaske took a big turn at second, and was almost picked off.

"It was a close call at second base that just about cost me," Vaske said.

However, the shortstop's throw back to second was wide of the bag and went past the fielder -- allowing Vaske to advance to third.

Matt Gades singled to drive home Vaske, as Adrian worked its way back into the game.

"That was big," Kruger said. "I could tell our bench just got excited. We were playing loose again. That was really big."

With one out, Adam Diekmann walked, and Jordan Kontz doubled to drive in Gades. Glen Kruger followed with another single to drive in Diekmann to bring to score to 6-3.

Brandon Diekmann kept the rally going with an RBI single, and Reid Strand got in on the action with an RBI single. Before it was all said and done, Adrian had scored five runs in chasing Verthein from the bump.

"It (the six run lead) helped until Adrian came back and scored the five on us," Muller said. "It actually kind of got me nervous, but we brought in a pitcher that's done well for us throughout his whole high school career, and he threw strikes and did what I asked of him."

Muller went with McCallson, who had not allowed an earned run in 10 innings entering the tournament.

McCallson finished the game for La Crescent, allowing just five hits and never give up a run.

For Adrian, six different pitchers saw action. Brandon Diekmann suffered the loss, allowing just three earned runs in just over an inning of work. Gades relieved Diekmann, and allowed just two runs in 3 1/3 innings of work.

Adam Diekmann, Jordan Kontz, John Archer and Joey Bertrand each threw in the closing innings.

"I was just glad to get everybody in at the end," Greg Kruger said. "I know their fans weren't too appreciative of me putting every pitcher in, but that's maybe something that they'll never forget -- that they've pitched in the state tournament."

La Crescent added one more run in the third and fifth innings.

"When we came back to make it 6-5, they came back," Greg Kruger said. "When we came back, they came back."

Post 595 scored its final runs of the game with a four-run sixth inning in route to a 12-5 victory.

"The first few innings, we did fine, but towards the second half of the game, I started off the rally," Vaske said. "Then towards the end everybody started slowing."

Brandon Diekmann and Gades led the charge offensively with two hit apiece. Every one of Adrian's starters reached base at least once in the game.

For La Crescent, Lorenz had four hits, while Dustin Lovell drove in three in the game.

McCallson earned the victory with four and two thirds innings of shut-out baseball.

With the season that Adrian had, Greg Kruger said he was disappointed at ending the season with two straight losses.

"It's disappointing, but it's time to leave here," Kruger said. "It was a good experience. These kids have played a lot of big games in baseball in their career. I hope they have more big games to play in. We have a chance to come back next year."

While Adrian will lose key players to graduation, a few of the players will still be eligible next season.

"John's (Archer) eligible, Cody's (Kontz) eligible and Reid's (Strand) eligible, so if those three come back, that will help us a lot," Kruger said.

Meanwhile, La Crescent advanced to face Nashwauk-Keewatin in the next game.

"We've got our No. 1 pitcher that we have not used yet, so we're going to try and come back with him right now," Muller said. "Coming back after a day in the heat like this is tough to do. They're a bunch of gamers and that's what I like about them."

La Crescent defeated N-K 11-5 to win the consolation championship.

Adrian's first round opponent, Jordan, defeated GFW (Fairfax) for the state championship and will move on to the Central Plains Division II Regional.


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