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Amateur baseball: Knutson twirls a gem, Bennett plays in fifth decade

Logan Knutson hurls first complete game for Heron Lake, and veteran manager Myron Bennett shows he isn't too old to add another milestone.

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Amateur baseball teams are getting into the swing of things here in mid-June, with the playoffs about a month away.

But a few clubs struck out in a big way on Saturday.

Defending Class C champion Fairmont and two other teams have already been eliminated from state-tournament consideration following a ruling at last weekend’s meeting of the Minnesota Baseball Association.

The Fairmont Martins won’t be in the First Nite League playoffs as penalty for using a player who had not obtained his official release from another club.

“Yes, it’s official. They’re banned from postseason play,” said First Nite League president Scott Bahr.

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Also barred from 2021 postseason play for a similar violation of MBA rules were the Albertville Villains and the Cold Spring Springers, the latter of which is among the most storied franchises in Minnesota amateur baseball history.

“It was a sad day for Minnesota baseball,” said Bahr.

Region 13C, which includes the Gopher and First Nite Leagues, will still send three teams to the state tournament. Last year, Fairmont went unbeaten in First Nite League play and added five victories at the state tourney to claim the Class C championship.

On the field last weekend, meanwhile, among the more notable performances were from a young Heron Lake pitcher and a distinguished Hadley manager.

Last Saturday in Heron Lake, Logan Knutson, 22, pitched his first career amateur complete game to lead the host Lakers to a 9-2 victory over the Adrian A’s. Knutson scattered seven hits and struck out four while walking just two. He did not allow an earned run.

On Saturday in Tracy, manager Myron Bennett of Hadley was pressed into service as the short-handed Buttermakers rallied to defeat the host Engineers 23-17 in a wild one.

Bennett, 61, played right field and had an infield single. He has now played in a game for the Buttermakers in five decades -- an amazing achievement.

“Myron is nothing short of unbelievable,” said Hadley star pitcher Luke Drooger. “The man works so hard and I don’t know if he makes a dime from anything he does. He’s there every day we play getting the fields ready and he’s always the last one to leave. If anyone ever forgets something he’s always running around to find it for us.”

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There are many others who make the Hadley Buttermakers a successful operation, but those closest to the organization realize Bennett is the main man.

“For sure,” Drooger said. “It’s pretty amazing how hard that guy works.”

Bennett’s first-inning single was not a line drive, but it looks like one in the scorebook.

“It was a pop up in the infield,” Drooger said.

It dropped, and then Bennett tripped while running to first.

“He crawled the last few feet but he got there,” Drooger said.

Nick Bruning went 4-for-6 with a homer and six RBIs as Hadley topped Tracy in the slugfest. Kellen Johnson had three hits, while Alex Petersen and Avery Weber each had two.

The Buttermakers scored eight times in the ninth to rally from a 17-15 deficit.

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In other First Nite and Gopher League action over the weekend, it was:

Worthington 10, Tracy 7

WORTHINGTON — Tyler Linder had four hits and Eric Heidebrink pitched a complete game for the Cubs.

Linder’s 4-for-5 day featured a triple and two RBIs. Ryan Swanson had three hits, including two doubles, and three RBIs, and Logan Huisman also had three safeties. Danny Pavelko had two hits.

Lakefield wins a pair

HERON LAKE — The Lakefield Frogs improved to 5-4 with a doubleheader sweep on Sunday.

Lakefield won 17-7 in seven innings in the resumption of a game suspended a few weeks ago, then tacked an 8-2 victory in the second game. Jason Pohlman had three hits for Lakefield, while Zach Bargfrede pitched five solid innings.

Eli Becker had three hits for Heron Lake.

Windom 16, Adrian 0

WINDOM — Luke Gilbertson smashed a grand slam and Noah Kloss had four hits for Windom, which improved to 8-1 in league play.

Collin Lovell earned the mound victory for the Pirates. He tossed six innings of two-hit ball and struck out 11.

Hadley 11, Jackson 10

HADLEY — Danny Blankenship homered and had three doubles as the Buttermakers rallied to win on Sunday.

Max Zwart had three hits, including an RBI single that broke an 8-all tie in the seventh inning, as Hadley rallied from an 8-2 deficit.

Easton Bahr and Blaise Jacobsen each had four hits for Jackson as the Bulls out-hit the Buttermakers 18-14.

Justin Benda had three hits for Hadley. Jacob Van Dam pitched seven-plus innings and struck out five to earn the mound triumph.

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