AMATEUR BASEBALL: Cardinals force Game 5

WILMONT -- Classmates and teammates for years, the duo of Justin Saufley and Jay Scheidt came up big again Tuesday evening, leading the Wilmont Cardinals to a 12-2, eight-inning victory over the Jackson Bulls at Butts Probst Field in Game 4 of a ...

Wilmont's Jay Scheidt
Matt Huss/Daily Globe Wilmont's Jay Scheidt bunts for a base hit against Jackson during the third inning of an amateur baseball playoff game Tuesday night in Wilmont. The Cardinals earned a 12-2 victory in eight innings.

WILMONT -- Classmates and teammates for years, the duo of Justin Saufley and Jay Scheidt came up big again Tuesday evening, leading the Wilmont Cardinals to a 12-2, eight-inning victory over the Jackson Bulls at Butts Probst Field in Game 4 of a best-of-five Region 13C amateur baseball playoff series.

The win by the Cardinals (19-12) evens the series at two games each and sends the series back to Wacker Field in Jackson for Game 5 Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Wilmont, which rode the strong right arm of Saufley to a 4-0 victory in Game 1 at Jackson August 5, broke a tight game open with seven runs -- on four hits, three walks and one Jackson error -- in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"We changed our batting order and it seemed to work out for us," exclaimed Wilmont player-manager Sam Baumgartner after Scheidt's two-run double ended the game via the 10-run rule in the bottom of the eighth. "Jay is such a good hitter and we wanted to give him as many at-bats as possible -- same way with Steven Kremer. Those two guys are capable of getting on base in several ways."

Scheidt, who just flew back from Las Vegas before Game 2 last Friday, came through big at the plate Tuesday -- just missing the cycle with a single, two doubles, a triple, two runs and four RBI in six trips to the plate.


"We had batting practice Monday and I got some good swings in, which helped my confidence," Scheidt said. "I was able to get some good pitches to hit (Tuesday), as I was able to stay ahead in the count, which always helps."

While Scheidt was delivering at the plate, his Worthington High School (Class of 2005) and Minnesota West (Class of 2007) classmate and teammate -- Saufley -- was dehorning the Bulls.

Saufley, who has pitched the last two springs at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, twirled a solid eight innings Tuesday, finishing with 15 strikeouts, which upped his two-game total against the Bulls to 28 in 17 innings.

"Our defense made the plays when they had to and Bryan (Nikkel) called a great game," explained the low-key Saufley. "I felt the crowd behind me in the late innings and I was able to bear down when I needed to and get some key outs."

Saufley scattered eight hits to the Bulls -- three off the bat of Kip Wachal (3-for-4, double, run) -- but only gave up two free passes, walking one and hitting one.

Saufley walked Jackson lead-off batter Andy Wolf (1-for-3) to start the game and hit Jason Cook (2-for-2, sacrifice bunt) with a pitch in the top of the third.

"Justin always seems to have and maintain control," praised Baumgartner. "We have a great chance to win when he is pitching."

Wilmont scored the game's first run in the bottom of the third inning -- after Jackson starting pitcher Tom Hady (two innings, two strikeouts, no walks, three hits, one earned run) injured his knee and had to be carried off the field.


Hady had retired six of the first seven batters he faced, including working a 1-2-3 inning in the second.

But after Nikkel ripped a solid base hit to left field to lead off the third, Baumgartner put down a sacrifice bunt towards first base.

While coming off the mound in an attempt to field the ball, Hady's spikes appeared to catch the infield and his knee twisted, dropping him to the ground in pain.

With Nikkel on second and Baumgartner on first, Scheidt faced Bulls' reliever Ben Scheevel -- a draftee from the Heron Lake Lakers -- and beat out a well-placed bunt down the third-base line.

With the bases loaded, Scheevel notched a strikeout to record the inning's first out, but Joe Ahrens -- who had tagged a two-out double to right-center field in the bottom of the first frame -- drew an RBI walk, plating Nikkel.

After both Saufley and Scheevel worked scoreless fourth innings, the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Scheidt ripped the first pitch of the frame into the right-center field gap and sprinted all the way to third with a lead-off triple.

Brian Harberts followed by hitting an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Scheidt with the game's second run.


Outstanding fielding efforts by both Scheevel and Saufley, who each deflected balls bare-handed, highlighted those innings between Wilmont's first runs.

In the bottom of the fourth, Scheevel -- who had worked out of a bases-loaded and no-outs jam in the third, allowing just one run -- deflected a line smash off the bat of Baumgartner, which was fielded by Cook (second baseman) for an inning-ending double play.

In the top of the fifth, Saufley made a bare-handed knockdown of a line drive off the bat of Wolf, fielded the ball himself, pivoted and made a back-hand throw to Josh Wasmund at first base for the inning's second out.

The Bulls (22-10) rallied to tie the game in an exciting sixth frame, which featured a total of nine runs -- on six hits -- between the two teams.

Wachal's infield hit started the top of the frame for Jackson.

Blaise Jacobsen's RBI double (to deep left-center field) scored the streaking Wachal all the way from first, putting the Bulls on the board.

Jacobsen moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Lewis and then scored -- in a collision at the plate -- on an RBI fielder's choice (down the third-base line) off the bat of Trent Sukalski (1-for-3).

But with the score knotted at two, the Cardinals surged with a big effort in the bottom of the inning.


Saufley drew a walk to start the frame. Kremer (3-for-4, two RBI, two runs) then put down a perfectly-placed bunt and reached for a hit when the ball stopped -- untouched -- just inside the third-base line.

Jesse Teerink reached on a Bulls' error to load the bases with no outs before Nikkel drew a walk to drive in Saufley and make it 3-2 Wilmont.

After Baumgartner was retired for the first out on an infield fly popout, Scheidt ripped a ball down the left-field line for a two-run double that plated Kremer and Teerink and pushed the Cardinals' lead to 5-2.

Jackson's Pat Boggess came on in relief and issued a walk to Harberts to re-load the bases for Ahrens, who scored Nikkel from third with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field.

Scheidt went to third on the flyout to center and then scored on Wasmund's RBI single to left field, extending Wilmont's lead to 7-2. Saufley then drew his second walk of the inning to load the bases again.

Kremer capped the seven-run inning by smashing a two-run single up the middle, plating Harberts and Wasmund to put the Cardinals up 9-2.

Nate Brueggeman -- Jackson's fourth pitcher of the game --induced an inning-ending fielder's choice groundout to put an end to the Wilmont rally.

Neither team scored in the seventh, despite each team having runners in scoring position.


A one-out single by Cook, up the middle, and a two-out double by Wachal, to left, gave the Bulls runners on second and third.

But Saufley notched his 12th strikeout of the game to end the threat.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the bottom half, as Nikkel (hit by pitch) and the Ahrens brothers (Nick and Joe) each drew walks, but Brueggeman recorded his third strikeout of the inning to keep Wilmont from scoring.

Saufley struck out the side in the top of the eighth, setting the table for the game-ending finish by the Cardinals.

Kremer and Mitch Jensen smacked back-to-back one-out singles to left field.

Back-to-back walks to Nikkel (who reached base in every at-bat) and Kyle Vaske (RBI) scored Kremer, making the score 10-2.

Scheidt then came through with his third extra-base hit of the game, driving the ball up against the left-center field fence, plating both Jensen and Nikkel with the game-ending runs.



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