MCC wins pitchers' duel 3-1 against Adrian/Ellsworth
Dylan Kluis was excellent on the mound for the Rebels. MCC will be co-champions or win the Red Rock Conference outright depending on the result of an E/SWC game against MLA/C on Friday.
ADRIAN — With a 3-1 victory over rival Adrian/Ellsworth Monday evening, the Murray County Central Rebels have cemented themselves as at least the co-champions of the Red Rock Conference this spring season.
MCC has a conference record of 8-2. Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian has a conference record of 7-2. E/SWC plays conference opponent Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey on Friday for a chance to be co-champions.
The Flying Dutchmen evened the score against the Rebels in a 13-8 shortened game due to an election on May 8.
The Dragons and Rebels were locked in a pitchers' duel for much of their game. Reese Morrison took the mound for Adrian/Ellsworth while sophomore southpaw Dylan Kluis was on the mound for MCC.
Morrison allowed a hard-hit single to senior masher Christian Tentinger in the first inning but was for the most part excellent and in control on the mound for the Dragons. Morrison induced a lot of soft contact and even downed the Rebels in the top of the fifth inning in four pitches.
Kluis for his part was superb. He took a no-hitter into the fourth inning. He struck out six and was directing Adrian’s bats right towards his fielders.
The two blemishes on Kluis’ day were a seven-pitch sequence where he threw all balls in the fourth inning, and then he allowed two base runners in the top of the seventh.
Kluis was pulled in favor of trusty senior hurler Abe Paulzine for a two-out save. Klus pitched six and one-third innings. He allowed two hits and four walks.
“We were struggling to get guys on (base) and get runners in and we just needed him to continue to put zeroes up — and he did,” said Counter on the sophomore Kluis. “It maybe was not fair to pull him at the end but I have a senior that I have a lot of faith in and we felt very good about Abe closing it out.”
Paulzine is committed to pitch at Minnesota West next year.
MCC hit a lot of fly balls against Morrison but in the sixth inning the Rebels struck gold and hung up a crooked three. Senior catcher Carter Benda started the inning out with a hit, and stole second in the subsequent at-bat.
Derek Kluis grounded into a fielder’s choice, but shrewdly took second as Benda was caught in a run down. Christian Tentinger moved Kluis to third on a single through third and short.
Kluis was scored by a Jaden Deacon RBI-single. Connor DeGreeff hit a two-run single in the next at-bat for some insurance.
Morrison was relieved by Matt Geister after five and one-third innings. He allowed five hits, three earned runs and one walk.
The victory was not the flashy 10-run plus that MCC has won in the past this season, but was instead more inclined to how the Rebels will need to play come sections and playoffs.
“It was a well-played ball game. I thought both teams played good defensively. We were just fortunate enough to get some runners in that sixth inning,” said Counter. “You are not always going to get 10 (runs) — especially come playoffs, they are hard to come by. To win a close game is going to help us as we get closer to the playoffs.”
The game featured several tip-of-the-hat defensive moments. Garrett Penning made two diving catches in left field for the Dragons to steal away base-hits.
“When we played them in Slayton he made two great diving catches and he did it again today,” said Counter with a smile.
MCC senior Tanner Graphenteen also laid out to steal a hit away. Catcher Benda smashed into the backstop fence for a pop-fly to end the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Dragons put together their best scoring chance in the bottom of the seventh. Reece Carlson reached base on an error and Joe Rahe walked to put two on with one out.
Geister latched an RBI single and Keagan Polzine advanced the runners to second and third on a ground out, putting all the pressure on Penning batting in the nine spot.
Penning had struck out in his first two at-bats but stayed alive in a 2-2 count by fouling off Paulzine four times.
But Paulzine was determined and with a strong breaking curveball he ended the game on a strikeout.
MCC plays section opponent Minneota on Tuesday. The Rebels final regular season game is next Tuesday, May 23, against Tracy-Milroy-Balaton.
MCC 000 003 0 – 3 7 1
Adrian/Ellsworth 000 000 1 – 1 2 1