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Amateur baseball: Buttermakers beat Cubs, qualify for state tourney

WORTHINGTON -- The forecast for Sunday afternoon in Worthington called for sunshine, high temperatures in the upper 70s and a 100 percent chance of champagne showers inside the Hadley dugout.

WORTHINGTON -- The forecast for Sunday afternoon in Worthington called for sunshine, high temperatures in the upper 70s and a 100 percent chance of champagne showers inside the Hadley dugout.

The Buttermakers defeated Worthington 6-3 in the deciding game of a best-of-three Region 13C amateur baseball playoff semifinal series with the Cubs and celebrated by popping some bottles after.

The win sends Hadley on to a region finals matchup with Milroy and gives them an automatic bid for the Minnesota amateur baseball state tournament. Milroy defeated Jackson 23-17 in its own region semifinal in Milroy on Sunday. Both the Buttermakers and the Irish qualified for state, as the top three teams from the region move on.

“This is a great win for this team and a great win for this town,” said Hadley pitcher Sam Erickson, who allowed three runs on six hits and struck out four batters in a complete game victory. “I have no doubt in my mind, we have the best supported team in Minnesota amateur baseball.”

Worthington, meanwhile, finds itself in a make-or-break best-of-three series with Jackson beginning Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Worthington. The series winner goes to state, while the loser goes home for the winter.

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“Both of the teams in the other game are good teams,” Worthington manager and first baseman Josh Wasmund said before the other semifinal had concluded. “They can score runs playing small ball and their pitchers are going to be around the plate. We just have to hit better.”

After allowing 23 runs to Milroy in Game 3 of the semifinal series, Jackson coach Scott Bahr says his team is ready to bounce back and give the Cubs a fight in the high-stakes series.

“We sure won’t quit in the next one,” Bahr said. “There’s no backup plan for this one. We have to win two games and then go on to the state tournament. Everybody knows Worthington is good, they were the No. 1 seed. But we were the No. 7 seed and we’re still playing in the middle of August. We had a couple of upsets already, so we just need one more.”

Worthington took advantage of several Hadley mistakes to jump out to a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first inning. The Cubs’ first run came on a throwing error by the Buttermakers’ second baseman, on a double play attempt that gave Adam Munkel first base. The error kept the inning alive for Joe Ahrens to smash a two-RBI double into the right-center gap to drive in Munkel and Ryan Lee.

The Buttermakers buckled down after the brutal first inning and did not allow the Cubs to cross home again. Pitcher Sam Erickson retired 24 of the next 27 batters he faced, including 10 consecutive batters in innings 4-8. He didn’t allow more than one hit in an inning after the first.

“We gave up a couple hits, walked a guy and had an unfortunate error in the first,” Erickson said. “But with this team there’s so many high fives in the dugout, and patting you on the back. With this team, you’re never out of it, you’ll be down and give up a lot of runs, but this team fights hard. We were a little shaken up right away, but we were never worried.”

Nate Weineke drove in the game-winning run in the fourth inning with a single to center field that plated Chris Halbur from third base to move the Buttermakers ahead 4-3. Halbur was hit by a pitch and took second and third on a wild pitch. It was the Buttermakers’ second run of the inning after Trent Carlson tied it up at three with a sacrifice fly to center field that drove in Erik Weineke.

R H EHadley 200 200 020 -- 6 10 1Worthington 300 000 000 -- 3 6 1Milroy 23, Jackson 17 MILROY -- Milroy defeated jackson 23-17 in a barnburner of a ball game to move on to the region semifinal and earn a state tournament berth.

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Milroy will play Hadley for first and second, while Jackson will face Worthington for third place and the final state tournament spot.

Fairmont draftee Matt Lytle pitched three and two thirds innings and picked up the win for the Irish. Brady Lanoue backed up Milroy’s pitching, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and a walk.

Caleb Rossow went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, seven RBIs, scored two runs and was hit by a pitch for the Bulls.

R H EJackson 300 610 601 -- 17 13 3Milroy 525 055 01x -- 23 16 4

Related Topics: MILROY
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