AMATEUR BASEBALL: Bulls take 2-1 edge on Cardinals

JACKSON -- All season-long, the Jackson Bulls have been a well-balanced team at the plate, getting different players to come through with clutch hits.

Prime position
In this file photo, Wilmont's Sam Baumgartner fields a ground ball during a recent amateur baseball playoff game in Jackson.

JACKSON -- All season-long, the Jackson Bulls have been a well-balanced team at the plate, getting different players to come through with clutch hits.

That trend was evident again Sunday afternoon, as seven Bulls came up with hits and Jackson claimed a 7-4 victory over Wilmont in Game 3 of a best-of-five Region 13C amateur baseball playoff series.

Utilizing the same formula -- one run on two hits -- in each of the first three innings, the Bulls (22-9) opened up a 3-1 lead on the Cardinals (18-12) and then capitalized on a couple of misplayed balls by the Wilmont defense to score four more runs in the bottom of the fifth frame, stretching the margin to 7-2.

The Cardinals, who tagged eight hits in the contest -- and had eight flyballs caught by Bulls' center fielder Andy Wolf -- rallied with a couple of runs in the top of the eighth, but fell short as Jackson took a 2-1 lead in the series.

Wilmont, which won Game 1 (4-0) Wednesday, will host Game 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.


The First Nite League Tournament champion Bulls, who won Game 2 Friday (9-3), are one game away from joining Windom in this year's state tournament.

The Pirates, the First Nite League Tournament runner-ups, completed a three-game sweep of Gopher League champion Hadley Sunday.

A victory Tuesday by Wilmont -- the Gopher League Tournament runner-up -- would send Game 5 back to Jackson Thursday.

Leading Jackson's 10-hit attack Sunday were left fielder Marcus Schultz (3-for-4, two runs, RBI) and catcher Blaise Jacobsen (2-for-4, home run, two runs, two RBI).

Schultz, who reached base in all four of his trips to the plate, delivered an RBI triple to deep right-center field in the bottom of the first inning, scoring Jason Cook -- who had beat out an infield hit.

Jacobsen, who had three hits for the Bulls in Game 2, stayed hot at the plate as he smacked a leadoff single for the Bulls in the second inning.

Advancing to third base on a pair of groundouts, Jacobsen scored Jackson's second run when Caleb Rossow ripped an RBI single into left-center field.

In the the bottom of third, the Bulls again scored a run -- on two hits -- as Schultz singled and stole second before crossing the plate on a towering RBI double by first baseman Kip Wachal up against the left-field fence.


"That was a good start for us," declared Jackson manager Scott Bahr. "We had six hits -- by five different guys -- in those first three innings, getting a single run on two hits each time."

The Cardinals, who also had seven players come through with hits, had tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the second inning on three consecutive two-out singles.

Joe Ahrens started things for Wilmont with a solid smash to left, and Jesse "Muff" Teerink followed with by beating out an infield hit.

Ahrens scored on Bryan Nikkel's sharp RBI single up the middle.

"Wilmont really hit the ball well," praised Bahr. "They (the Cardinals) hit the ball harder than we did -- man, they swung the bats well -- but we made so many great defensive plays. Andy (Wolf) had several absolutely tremendous catches out in center field -- what a highlight reel that was."

Wolf made one catch in the first inning, caught two balls in the second, had another catch in each of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth frames, before making his most amazing play with one out in the top of the ninth to finish the game with eight putouts for the Bulls.

With Brian Harberts (lead-off walk) on first base in the top of the ninth, Wilmont's Josh Wasmund blasted a shot that appeared heading for the center-field fence. But the speedy Wolf raced back and made a fantastic running catch near the 390-foot sign.

"That's the kind of player he is," praised Bahr about Wolf. "He can make all kinds of plays out there. I had told our pitcher -- Fox Lake draftee Jon Traetow -- to trust your defense, let them hit it and Wolf will catch it. That's what happened eight times."


The Cardinals did score their second run on one those catches, as Jay Scheidt's deep RBI sacrifice fly scored Steven Kremer (2-for-3, walk, run) in the top of the fifth.

Kremer had led off the inning with a solid single to left and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sam Baumgartner.

A single to left by Harberts moved Kremer to third, giving the Cardinals a pair of baserunners. But Scheidt's long drive -- with runners on the corners -- was somehow caught by Wolf, and only one Cardinal crossed the plate in that inning, as Traetow got Wasmund to fly out to Schultz in the next at-bat.

"That's what I mean," explained Bahr. "Wilmont was hitting the ball hard -- but we were catching it."

Jacobsen tags two-run homer in bottom of fifth

Holding a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Bulls took advantage of a couple of plays that Wilmont did not make.

A leadoff single up the middle by Wolf was followed by Cook's sacrifice bunt, moving Wolf to second.

Schultz hit a solid shot, which got past Baumgartner, allowing Wolf to score.


Wachal's flyout to Scheidt in center field could have been Jackson's third out.

Pat Rients was up next and his long drive down the right field line was nearly caught by Joe Ahrens -- but the ball deflected of his glove, allowing Schultz to score and Rients to streak all the way to third with an RBI triple.

Jacobsen then smacked the first pitch high over the right-field fence, capping Jackson's four-run inning and giving the Bulls a 7-2 lead.

"A guy's got to do what he's got to do," said Jacobsen about the home run. "It was an inside fast ball and I was able to turn on it quick. It's playoff time, so it's time to step it up."

The home run by Jacobsen was his fifth hit in seven at-bats (during Games 2 and 3).

"Blaise had been in a bit of a slump late in the season," noted Bahr. "But he has sure come out of it and is really hitting the ball well again now."

Wasmund's RBI double highlights Wilmont rally

Traetow -- who had retired the Cardinals in order in both the first and sixth innings, while facing only four batters in the third, fourth and seventh frames -- gave up just his second walk of the game in the top of the eighth, a leadoff free pass to Scheidt.


Wasmund followed with a booming RBI double to the left-center field gap, scoring Scheidt and bringing Bahr to the mound for a pitching change.

"Jon had thrown very well, but he was tiring and it was time for a change," explained Bahr. "We have a lot of confidence in our relievers."

With no outs and Wasmund on second, Jackson's Pat Boggess got the next two batters on a flyout and strikeout, respectively. But Teerink's flyball to left was dropped by Schultz -- Jackson's lone error of the game -- and Wasmund scored Wilmont's fourth run.

After walks to Nikkel and Kremer loaded the bases, Bahr switched pitchers again -- bringing in Rossow from his shortstop position.

A very close play ended the Cardinals' rally.

Sam Baumgartner's slow roller bounced off of Rossow and was fielded by Cook (second baseman), whose throw to Wachal barely beat the hustling Baumgartner for Wilmont's third out.

Neither team scored the rest of the game, as both teams put a runner on base, but relievers Joe Ahrens (Wilmont) and Rossow -- aided by good defensive plays -- kept each other from crossing the plate.

Traetow (one strikeout, two walks, eight hits, four runs -- three earned) pitched seven innings for the Bulls, getting the victory.


Nick Ahrens (one strikeout, no walks, one hit batter, 10 hits, seven runs -- three earned) pitched seven and one-third innings for the Cardinals, taking the loss. He retired Jackson in order in both the fourth and sixth innings.


Wilm 010 010 020 -- 4 8 2

Jack 111 040 00X -- 7 10 1

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