AMATEUR BASEBALL: Jackson wins First Nite League tournament

JACKSON -- Aided by five Windom errors, the Jackson Bulls scored in a variety of ways Saturday afternoon -- including a three-run homer by Corey Polz in the bottom of the sixth inning -- as they captured the First Nite League playoff championship...

Jackson's Jason Cook
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Jackson second baseman Jason Cook dives for a sharply hit groundball during Saturday afternoon's playoff game with Windom in Jackson.

JACKSON -- Aided by five Windom errors, the Jackson Bulls scored in a variety of ways Saturday afternoon -- including a three-run homer by Corey Polz in the bottom of the sixth inning -- as they captured the First Nite League playoff championship with a 12-0 victory over the Windom Pirates.

Jackson (20-8) scored two runs in the first inning, tacked on four more in the bottom of the second -- highlighted by Jason Cook's two-run single -- crossed the plate once in the fifth and then scored five times in the sixth, as the Bulls ended the game early via the 10-run rule.

"We hit some balls hard," Jackson manager Scott Bahr said. "We continue to be a very balanced team, as once again we had several different guys come through with some timely hits."

Along with timely hitting, the Bulls helped themselves with a trio of well-executed sacrifice bunts and also took advantage of four walks and three hit batters issued by Windom pitchers.

Meanwhile, Jackson's Ryan Rasche was in control.


A lanky left-hander, Rasche faced just 25 batters in seven innings, giving up just one walk, while scattering four hits.

"Ryan came up to me before the game and said that he 'wanted the ball,'" explained Bahr about his decision to pitch Rasche in the contest. "It worked out well, as he had great control and really trusted his defense."

While Rasche finished with just two strikeouts, the Bulls caught 11 fly balls for outs and came up seven groundball outs -- including an inning-ending (fourth) 4-6-3 double play.

Jackson right fielder Pat Rients caught four of those fly balls, including a lead-off blast by Windom's Brett Dumke that seemed to be headed for the fence before Rients made a nice over-the-shoulder catch.

Windom's Charlie Dunnick followed with a sharp base hit to right and then stole second, giving the Pirates a runner on second with just one out.

But Rasche got the next two Windom hitters -- the Johnson brothers, Kody and Kirby -- on a popup and groundout, respectively, to Bulls' second baseman Jason Cook.

Rients and Cook then both came up big for Jackson in the bottom of the first.

After lead-off batter Andy Wolf coaxed a walk, Cook put down a nice sacrifice bunt.


Dunnick, who pitched the first inning and a third for Windom, handled the bunt, but misfired the throw, allowing Cook to reach second and Wolf to score.

"That was a good example of how fast Cook is," declared Bahr. "We scored that as a hit. I think Jason had it beat it out, but we got a break on the throw and Andy came all the way around to score."

Rients then cracked the first of his two RBI singles, smacking the ball into right field, plating Cook with Jackson's second run.

After Rasche retired the Pirates in order, the Bulls scored four runs in the bottom of the second.

Trent Sukalski stroked a lead-off single to left and Polz (a left-handed hitter) followed suit with an opposite-field single that landed just inside the left-field foul line.

A well-placed sacrifice bunt by Caleb Rossow moved Sukalski to third and Polz to second.

Wolf reached on an infield error, loading the bases for Cook.

Cook stuck his bat out on a pitch that was low and outside, lifting the ball over the drawn-in Windom infield into shallow left field, plating both Sukalski and Polz.


Rients made the score 5-0 when he slapped an RBI single down the first-base line, scoring Wolf.

Windom changed pitchers, bringing in Kody Johnson to throw.

Jackson's Marcus Schultz tagged Johnson's first pitch into the left-center field gap. But Windom left fielder Tyler Knutson made the catch, as Cook tagged on the play, giving Schultz an RBI sacrifice fly and the Bulls a 6-0 lead.

Rasche pitched a 1-2-3 third and Johnson kept the Bulls off the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning, allowing one walk, but no hits.

Dunnick (2-for-3) reached on an infield hit to get Windom started in the top of the fourth.

But Rasche got Kody Johnson on a flyball to left and then Cook, Rossow and Kip Wachal turned a 4-6-3 double play to get Kirby Johnson and end the inning.

Wolf drew a lead-off walk for the Bulls in the bottom of the fourth, but Kody Johnson retired Cook and Rients on long flyball outs and then notched his second strikeout to end the inning.

For the only time in the game, Windom put two runners on base in the top of the fifth frame.


Trent Anderson drew a lead-off walk -- the only free pass issued by Rasche all game long -- and then, after a flyout, Mark Hockel ripped a solid one-out single into right field, moving Anderson to second base.

But with two on and one out, Rasche recorded his second strikeout of the contest and then Rients made his third catch of the game to end the threat.

Jackson increased its lead to 7-0 in the bottom of the inning, as Wachal was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Both Blaise Jacobsen and Sukalski reached base on Pirate errors, which allowed Wachal to score.

Kody Johnson then induced three straight fly balls to Dumke in center field, stranding both Jacobsen and Sukalski and limiting the damage to a single run.

Dumke hit a lead-off single for Windom in the top of the sixth, but a fielder's choice and two fly outs kept the Pirates from the getting a runner to second -- something they were able to do only twice in the game.

Hockel took the mound for the Pirates in the bottom of the sixth and after getting the first two Bulls out, Jackson strung together another big inning.

Schultz drew a two-out walk and Wachal followed with a double to left field.


Jacobsen was again safe on a Windom error, which scored both Schultz and Wachal, making the score 9-0.

Bulls' pinch-hitter Grant Carlson was hit by a pitch and then Polz powered his home-run into the street over the right-field fence, plating Jacobsen, Carlson and himself -- as the Jackson lead was stretched to 12-0.

After Jordan Lewis was hit by a pitch, Anderson relieved Hockel, becoming Windom's fourth pitcher of the contest.

Wolf smacked a solid single, but Anderson retired Cook on a nice catch by Knutson in left field.

Rasche finished the game in the top of the seventh, as Anderson, Knutson and Hockel were all retired on fly outs to complete the shutout.

As the First Nite League champion, Jackson will face Gopher League runner-up Wilmont. Windom (18-8) will tangle with Gopher League champion Hadley in a best-of-five playoff series, starting later this week.

The winners of those series will both adavance to the Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament later this month.



Windom 000 000 0 -- 0 4 5

Jackson 240 015 X -- 12 9 0

Hadley 6, Wilmont 3

HADLEY -- In the final game of the Gopher League championship game Sunday, Hadley came away with the victory and the top spot entering the region tournament.

The Buttermakers will face First Nite League runner-up Windom in a best-of-five series beginning this week.

Wilmont will face First Nite League champion Jackson.

Max Zwart started on the hill for Hadley (20-11), with Justin Reinsma earning the victory. Paul Counter earned the save in relief.

Mitchell Jensen suffered the loss for Wilmont (17-10).

Taylor Rignell was 2-for-4 for Hadley, while Ryan Beers was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run in the first inning.

Zach Bruns hit a two-run home run in the fourth to cap his 2-for-3 day, while Zwart was 2-for-3 with two RBI.

Jesse Teerink had three hits, while Kyle Vaske was 2-for-3 for the Cardinals.


Wilmont 101 001 0 -- 3 8 1

Hadley 301 200 x -- 6 11 0

Wilmont 16, Hadley 13

HADLEY -- Steven Kremer hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth to cap a 4-for-6 day, leading Wilmont to a come-from-behind victory in the first game of the Gopher League amateur baseball tournament championship.

Justin Saufley had five hits, while Josh Wasmund had four hits. Joe Ahrens was 2-for-5 for Wilmont.

Ryan Beers was 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBI for Hadley. Max Zwart had three hits, Paul Counter had four hits and drove in four runs, while Zach Bruns had two hits in the game.

Ahrens started on the hill for Wilmont. Ryan Swanson earned the victory in relief, with Sam Baumgartner earning the save.

Bruns started on the hill for Hadley, with James Wajer suffering the loss.


Wil. 200 102 092 -- 16 17 2

Had. 301 302 400 -- 13 18 0

Wilmont 9, Adrian 0

ADRIAN -- In a game which was suspended Friday night and completed Saturday, Wilmont clinched a spot in the region tournament with a nine-run victory against Adrian.

Nick Ahrens earned the victory on the hill for the Cardinals. He allowed no runs on four hits while walking none, hitting two and striking out three in nine innings.

Kevin Nowotny suffered the loss for Adrian. Greg Quist entered and threw in relief.

Cody Kontz, Jordon Kontz, Levi Bullerman and Matt Gades each had a hit for the A's.

Sam Baumgartner was 4-for-5 with three RBI to lead Wilmont. Brian Harberts was 3-for-5, while Justin Saufley, Jesse Teerink and Kyle Vaske each had two hits. Joe Ahrens had a two-run base hit in the second inning.


Wil. 041 001 201 -- 9 16 0

Adrian 000 000 000 -- 0 4 0

Windom's Brett Dumke
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Pirate centerfielder Brett Dumke prepares to catch a fly ball during Saturday afternoon's playoff game with the Bulls in Jackson. Dumke caught flies for all three outs in the inning.

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