Pipestone edges Jordan, advances to title game

LE SUEUR - Pipestone pitcher Brandan Alfson left the mound, raced across the field and leaped into the arms of third baseman Chris Dougherty, who carried his ecstatic friend amid a swarm of celebrating teammates.

LE SUEUR - Pipestone pitcher Brandan Alfson left the mound, raced across the field and leaped into the arms of third baseman Chris Dougherty, who carried his ecstatic friend amid a swarm of celebrating teammates.

Pipestone had dethroned a champion and kept alive its dream of winning a state title.

Alfson allowed just two hits in seven scoreless innings and Jon Schelhaas scored from second base on an infield error in the fourth inning Saturday afternoon to lead Pipestone's American Legion baseball team to a 1-0 victory against Jordan in the semifinals of the Division II state tournament.

Post 6 will face Eden Valley-Watkins, which earned a 6-2 victory against Pelican Rapids on Saturday, in the championship game at 3:30 p.m. today in Le Sueur. A win would cap Pipestone's unexpected run with its first state title and a trip to the Central Plains Region tournament.

"I've never had this feeling, really - I can't explain it," Alfson said. "It's an awesome feeling. The whole game was like a seventh inning - everything was tight. The whole time, everything was shaking. It was a fun game."


Jordan's players, some in tears, left the field in dejection, having suffered their first loss at the state tournament in five years. Jordan entered the weekend seeking its fifth consecutive state title. It defeated Pipestone twice during its reign, winning the championship game in 2005 and a quarterfinal contest last year, en route to earning four consecutive appearances - and three victories - in the Central Plains Region title game.

"We finally got Jordan once," Pipestone coach Steve Moffitt said, laughing. "They've been a nemesis to us.

"They're a good team. They don't make mistakes - everybody knows that. You don't win the state legion title four years in a row and make mistakes."

But Jordan made an uncharacteristic mistake on Saturday - and it proved costly.

Schelhaas drew a four-pitch walk - the lone walk issued by Jordan starting pitcher Tanner Oakes - to lead off the fourth inning, and he eventually reached second base on a passed ball. With two outs, Dougherty hit a grounder to Jordan's shortstop, who blocked the ball with his chest, recovered quickly and fired wildly toward first base. The throw forced Jordan first baseman T.J. Oakes to leave the bag and field the ball on a hop. Schelhaas, meanwhile, never slowed down. He sprinted around third base and scored standing up.

"He's fearless on the basepaths," Moffitt said, referring to Schelhaas. "He will go for broke."

Schelhaas' bold decision paid off, breaking a scoreless tie and fanning the flames of Pipestone's confidence.

"I really thought it was (enough to win)," Alfson said, referring to Schelhaas' run. "It was already four innings gone by, and I had been holding them the whole game. The only had one hit, so I really had a lot of confidence."


In one of the biggest games of his life, Alfson produced one of the best pitching performances of his career. He allowed two hits while walking three, striking out eight and outdueling Tanner Oakes, the son of University of Minnesota pitching coach Todd Oakes.

"I really don't think it was my best (performance); I wasn't throwing as hard as I usually do," Alfson said. "But beating Jordan I would rank No. 1."

Only seven Jordan batters reached base, with just three advancing as far as second. Alfson did not allow a baserunner to reach third, and he held Jordan to an 0-for-4 mark with runners in scoring position.

"Brandan Alfson, he's on a mission," Moffitt said. "When he's on the mound and he's on a mission, he's going to get it done."

A lead-off walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt, allowed a Jordan runner to reach second base with one out in the fourth inning, but Pipestone first baseman Cody Schulze snagged a liner to notch the second out and Alfson recorded a strikeout to end the inning.

Jordan had runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth inning, but Alfson induced a groundout to second baseman Sam Bauer to end the threat.

Alfson induced back-to-back groundouts to start the seventh inning, but Jordan refused to go down without a fight. James Hyatt reached on Pipestone's lone error of the game after fouling off three two-strike pitches, and Kurt Hynes followed with a single up the middle. But Alfson stranded the runners by striking out Jordan's No. 9 hitter, ending the game and extending Pipestone's winning streak to nine games.

"We didn't play errorless ball by any means; we missed three signs on sacrifices and we missed two chances on sacrifices," Moffitt said. "And I thought, 'Oh, my.' Against this team, you can't make mistakes like that and come out victorious. But what do I know? Every time, we find a way to win."


Tanner Oakes allowed one run on three hits while walking one and striking out three in a complete-game effort. He threw just 62 pitches and held Pipestone to an 0-for-2 mark with runners in scoring position. Five Post 6 batters managed to reach base, and only two advanced into scoring position.

Carl Johnson, Tyler Rieck and Dougherty combined to record Pipestone's three hits in the game, but neither player advanced to second base. Instead, Post 6 took advantage of a perfect storm - Tanner Oakes' lone walk, Jordan's lone error, and a bold baserunning decision by Schelhaas - in the fourth inning to scrape across the winning run.

"We thought we had a good chance," Alfson said. "We're on fire and our bats are on fire, and we thought we could score more than this, actually. As long as we kept them down to one or two (runs), we thought we could win."


Jordan 000 000 0 - 0 2 1

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