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Amateur baseball: State tournament begins this weekend

The Hadley Buttermakers remembered how to play defense and rediscovered their pitching prowess, too, on Sunday to secure a 2017 state amateur baseball berth.

The Hadley Buttermakers remembered how to play defense and rediscovered their pitching prowess, too, on Sunday to secure a 2017 state amateur baseball berth.

Hadley defeated Windom two games to one in their best-of-three Region 13C series, shutting out the Pirates 4-0 on Sunday in Hadley. On Saturday, Windom evened the series with a 13-3 seven-inning victory in a game that saw the Buttermakers -- normally a sharp defensive unit -- commit several errors.

They played errorless ball on Sunday, however, and pitchers Luke Drooger (seven innings) and Lucas Henning (two innings) kept the Pirates at bay.

“I think it gives us good momentum going to state, after we had that bad loss on Saturday,” said catcher Blake Rogers, a former Worthington High School standout, who smacked a solo home run on Sunday. Teammate Nick Bruning belted a three-run double.

“We’re still not hitting like we were earlier in the season. But hopefully, we can get that together,” said the team’s manager, Myron Bennett, on Tuesday. “We just have to show up and play our game.”

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Hadley is 21-11 on the year.

For Rogers, Sunday’s round-tripper was only his third for the summer season. The former Trojan is used to hitting more, but he underwent shoulder surgery last year, then dislocated an elbow and strained a UCL during his college season at Morningside.

Three talented draftees will go with Hadley to its state Class C opener against Cannon Falls (Saturday, 4 p.m. in Norwood): Henning, a dominating left-handed pitcher from the Worthington Cubs; Skyler Wenninger, from the Luverne Redbirds; and Sam Huska, from the Pirates.

All three of the draftees are solid hitters, but the rules state they can only pitch for their new teams. Huska stroked a two-run home run in Windom’s win over Hadley on Saturday, but he won’t get the chance at state.

Fortunately, the Buttermakers have good home-grown hitting talent. Bruning leads the team with a .465 batting average, Joe Larson it hitting .355 and Rogers .352.

Rogers believes the Buttermakers can do well at state, and the draftees will be a big help. Certainly, he’s happy to be reunited with Henning, who was a teammate at WHS.

“The first time I batted against Lucas was when I was 9. The second time was last summer (at age 21). I’m kind of glad we’re on the same team,” said Blake, who is in his second year with Hadley after playing the previous five summer seasons with Wilmont.

At the state tournament, there’s no room for error; the 16-region, 48-team Class C tournament is a single-elimination affair.

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Hadley is one of four area teams competing for the state championship. If the Buttermakers can get past Cannon Falls on Saturday, they’ll play Fergus Falls in the next round at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 26 in Green Isle.

The Milroy Irish open Sunday against Henderson at 5 p.m. in Hamburg, and a win there would move them to a 5 p.m. Aug. 26 game against Union Hill in Hamburg.

Fairmont, the Region 13C champion, has a first-round bye. It will play the winner of Saturday’s Crookston-Buffalo game at 5 p.m. Aug. 25 in Norwood.

Lamberton also has a first-round bye. It will open against the winner of Sunday’s Green Isle-Regal game at noon on Aug. 27 in Hamburg.

 

Related Topics: MILROYBASEBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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