Amateur baseball: Post-season tournament play set to begin
WORTHINGTON -- It's never a sure indicator of what's to come, but it's always better to be hot upon entering tournament play than to be cold. With that in mind, the Fairmont Martins and the Luverne Redbirds are sitting pretty as the First Nite Le...
WORTHINGTON -- It’s never a sure indicator of what’s to come, but it’s always better to be hot upon entering tournament play than to be cold.
With that in mind, the Fairmont Martins and the Luverne Redbirds are sitting pretty as the First Nite League and Gopher League amateur baseball playoffs are about to begin. The Martins, champions of the First Nite League, and the Redbirds, champions of the Gopher League, enjoy first-round byes in the best-of-three series that begin tonight (Wednesday, July 18) at various locations
Fairmont finished 13-6 in the First Nite League, as did the Lakefield Horned Frogs and the Windom Pirates, but earned the league title based on criteria. Jackson was 10-9 in the final standings while Martin County was 7-12, Heron Lake 6-13 and Worthington 6-12.
In the Gopher League, Luverne finished 15-4, Hadley 14-5, the Milroy Irish 13-6, Pipestone 12-6, Adrian 5-14, Tracy 3-16 and Ruthton 2-17.
In 7:30 p.m. games today, Lakefield hosts Ruthton, Windom plays Tracy at Wabasso, Adrian is at Jackson, Hadley is at Worthington, Heron Lake is at Milroy and Martin County is at Pipestone.
Action resumes on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with Lakefield at Ruthton, Jackson at Adrian and Pipestone at Truman. Other games are set for Saturday or Sunday and will be played as needed.
The Hadley Buttermakers and the Milroy Irish are hoping for return trips to the Minnesota state Class C tournament, but they’ll have some stiff competition going against them in the playoffs.
Luverne is coming off a big 13-0 victory over Adrian on Sunday, in a game where pitcher Codie Zeutenhorst threw seven shutout innings and Logan Norman drove in six runs.
Windom is also coming off an impressive win, 3-2 against Milroy, in Milroy. The Pirates were able to bring only nine players to the game but rallied for a pair of runs in the sixth inning to assume the lead -- featuring a game-tying double by Nick Kulseth and a go-ahead two-out RBI single by Jacob Johnson.
Pirate ace pitcher Collin Lovell struck out five of the last eight Milroy hitters to preserve the victory. He went the full seven innings, whiffing 12 in all and checking the Irish on six hits.
Every team attempts to keep their confidence level high entering tournament play, and that includes the Worthington Cubs. Though the Cubs finished at the bottom of the First Nite League this summer and lost their last three weekend games -- 6-0 to Jackson on Saturday and 2-1 and 2-0 to Lakefield on Sunday -- they know that everyone starts with the same record in the playoffs.
“If you look at our side, the First Nite League side, from top to bottom it’s been really close,” said first baseman Josh Wasmund, who pointed out that the Cubs have regular season victories against both Fairmont and Luverne.
But he knows Hadley will be tough to beat on Wednesday.
“No matter who you get from the other side, they’re going to be a tough team. Hadley can hit. Everybody in that lineup can hit the ball.”
Worthington, however, has not been hitting consistently.
“We’re just not getting the hits with runners on base. We’re getting hits, but we’re not getting them when we need to,” Wasmund said.