AMATEUR: Cardinals down Bulls, 4-0

JACKSON -- Combining a three-hit, complete-game masterpiece from right-handed pitcher Justin Saufley with a four-run fifth inning that was highlighted by back-to-back two-run base hits by Joe Ahrens and Josh Wasmund Wednesday night, the Wilmont C...

Wilmont's Brian Harberts
Aaron Hagen/daily Globe Wilmont second baseman Brian Harberts (left) throws to first baseman Josh Wasmund to record an out during Wednesday night's amateur baseball playoff game in Jackson. Wilmont won Game 1 of the best-of-five series, 4-0.

JACKSON -- Combining a three-hit, complete-game masterpiece from right-handed pitcher Justin Saufley with a four-run fifth inning that was highlighted by back-to-back two-run base hits by Joe Ahrens and Josh Wasmund Wednesday night, the Wilmont Cardinals captured a 4-0 victory over the Jackson Bulls in Game 1 of their Region 13C best-of-five amateur baseball series at Wacker Field.

Wilmont (18-10, Gopher League Tournament runner-up) will host Game 2 Friday night, with the first pitch scheduled to be thrown at 7:30 p.m. Jackson (20-9, First Nite League Tournament champ) will host Game 3 Sunday afternoon beginning at 2 p.m.

"This was a good baseball game, and it sure is nice to come out of here with a win," Wilmont manager Sam Baumgartner said after the game.

"We know it's a long series, and we still have some work to do. Justin pitched a great ballgame for us, and we came through with some key hits in that fifth inning."

Saufley (121 pitches, 85 strikes) fanned 13 batters, issued no walks and allowed just four baserunners (three hits, one error) in nine innings on the mound. He fired a first-pitch strike to 17 of the 31 batters he faced and went to a full count just four times all night.


"I was pumped up before the game, and I was able to go out there and throw a lot of strikes," Saufley said. "I just tried to get ahead and mix it up with my pitches. My off-speed pitches (curveball, changeup) were both working, and I just tried to locate the ball well against a good hitting team like Jackson."

The Bulls' Marcus Schultz cracked a one-out single to left field in the bottom of the second inning. Jackson didn't have another baserunner until there were two outs in the sixth inning, as Andy Wolf reached on a two-base error.

Saufley, who set the Bulls down in order in five separate innings (first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh), retired 13 straight batters in that span. Pinch-hitter Grant Carlson tagged a one-out double in the eighth, and Wolf smacked a lead-off double in the ninth, but Saufley worked around both hits and completed his gem to put the Cardinals up a game in the series heading into Friday's clash in Wilmont.

Ahrens, Wasmund deliver key hits in top of fifth

Tom Hady, Jackson's ace starting pitcher, was sharp early on -- striking out six batters and allowing just two walks and one hit through the first four innings.

Saufley blooped a one-out single to right field in the second, but Hady fanned the next two batters. Hady worked around walks to Ahrens and Saufley in the fourth, as the game remained scoreless.

Then, after Saufley needed just eight pitches to retire Jackson in order in the bottom of the fourth, Wilmont took control of the game in the top of the fifth. Catcher Bryan Nikkel, a draftee from Tracy, coaxed an eight-pitch, one-out walk to get things going for the Cardinals.

Nick Ahrens then slapped an 0-2 pitch down the right-field line for a single, advancing Nikkel to third base. Hady retired Baumgartner for the second out, but Brian Harberts drew a walk to load the bases.


Joe Ahrens lifted the first pitch he saw into shallow right-center field, landing a two-run single in front of a diving Wolf (center fielder). Nikkel and Nick Ahrens each scored on the two-out hit to put Wilmont up 2-0.

Josh Wasmund followed suit, as he jumped on the first pitch he saw and clobbered a two-run double to the fence in center field. Harberts and Joe Ahrens both scored to push the Cardinals' lead to 4-0.

"Those were two big hits right there," Baumgartner said. "It was nice to get a lead for Justin, who was just dealing out there. It was fun playing defense because he was always in or right around the strike zone."

Saufley struck out four of the seven batters he faced in the fifth and sixth innings, working around the Cardinals' only error with two outs in the sixth. Saufley then induced a pair of groundouts and a foul popout in a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh frame.

Meanwhile, Wilmont was trying to add some insurance runs. Steven Kremer led off the top of the sixth by reaching on an error and advancing to second on Jesse Teerink's sacrifice bunt.

Hady, though, retired the next two batters on groundouts to escape that potential threat. Hady struck out six and walked four in six innings.

Jackson reliever Pat Boggess then issued back-to-back walks to Baumgartner and Harberts to start the seventh. But Boggess retired the next three batters (Joe Ahrens, Wasmund and Saufley) to wiggle out of that jam.

Jackson's draftees -- Heron Lake's Ben Scheevel and Fox Lake's Jon Traetow -- then combined to work a perfect eighth inning. Scheevel retired the only two batters he faced on five pitches, while Traet ow notched a five-pitch strikeout.


However, Traetow walked the bases loaded with one out in the ninth. Nick Ahrens, Harberts and Joe Ahrens each reached base, as the Cardinals looked to extend their lead.

But Traetow, who earlier notched a three-pitch strikeout for the first out, fanned the next two batters to end the inning and keep the score at 4-0.

Saufley made that lead hold up. Carlson belted a one-out double in the eighth before Saufley registered a strikeout and induced an inning-ending flyout to Joe Ahrens in center.

Wolf then doubled to right-center to begin the bottom of the ninth. But Saufley closed the door by fanning the next two batters and inducing a game-ending groundout to Baumgartner at shortstop.

"My defense was solid right from the beginning, and that gave me more and more confidence as the game progressed," Saufley said. "I felt great on the mound and wanted to continue to throw strikes and give my team a chance to win."


Wil. 000 040 000 -- 4 4 1

Jack. 000 000 000 -- 0 3 2


Windom 7, Hadley 1

PIPESTONE -- In a night where the league runner-ups defeated the champions from the opposing league, the Windom Pirates took a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five series against Hadley, claiming a 7-1 victory over the Buttermakers.

Windom (19-8) received a sparkling pitching performance from left-hander Bryce Grove, who twirled a complete game and registered 10 strikeouts without walking a single batter.

"Bryce sure came through for us," exclaimed Pirates' general manager Jim Johnson. "He pitched a great game and Charlie Dunnick made three beautiful plays at third base that really helped."

While Grove (101 pitches) was keeping the Pirates off the bases -- scattering just seven hits in nine innings -- Hadley's Paul Counter pitched a no-hitter over the first four frames, as the game was a pitcher's duel early on.

But the Pirates utilized four hits -- including a three-run triple by Brett Dumke -- to plate five runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Kirby Johnson (2-for-4) had an RBI single in that frame and Dumke scored on an error, after his triple, to cap the scoring burst by the Pirates.

Windom added a run in the top of the sixth when catcher Will Gleinke -- a draftee from the Spencer (Iowa) Cardinals -- smacked an RBI single.


Kody Johnson (2-for-4) delivered an RBI double in the eighth frame, giving the Pirates a 7-0 lead.

Hadley (20-12) scored in the bottom of the eighth, getting a double by Zach Bruns and an RBI single by Ryan Beers (3-for-4).

Taylor Rignell, Luke Beers and Mitch Magnus also had hits for the Buttermakers.

Justin Reinsma pitched the last four innings for Hadley, after Counter finished the fifth.

The series continues at Windom Friday -- with the first pitch scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Island Park.


Win. 000 051 010 -- 7 10 2

Had. 000 000 010 -- 1 7 1

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