Rebels top Dragons 6-4 in exciting Red Rock Conference baseball game
“They gave us everything that we could handle. We had a nice lead early, lost it, but we found a way to come back and hit some big runs in the last couple of innings."
SLAYTON — Adrian/Ellsworth and Murray County Central have a longstanding rivalry when it comes to baseball, and the Thursday night matchup did not disappoint that tradition as the Rebels bested the Dragons 6-4.
The last time the two teams met was in the prior season. The Dragons and Rebels carried identical records and in order to decide seeding a one-game playoff was determined. The Rebels won that game, off a walk-off balk.
The Dragons started Keagan Polzine. The Rebels started senior Derek Kluis.
The Rebels batted around the order in the bottom of the first. MCC scored three runs, but Polzine settled into his pitch and kept the potent Rebels offense at bay for the next three innings.
“The middle innings of the game he (Polzine) shut us down. I don’t know what clicked at the end but we found a way to get a couple (of runs),” said MCC pitching coach Paul Counter.
The Dragons were excellent in the finer parts of the game. Adrian/Ellsworth stole outs with confident glove work in the field, worked the count and drew walks and stole bases to move runners into scoring position.
“They played ball. Man they made some great plays in the field,” said Counter. “They are always tough. It has been a rivalry for many years now. They gave us everything that we could handle. We had a nice lead early, lost it, but we found a way to come back and hit some big runs in the last couple of innings.”
The Dragons scored one run in the second, one run in the third and two runs in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead.
Travis Weiss had two hits. Kyler Kunkel, Reece Carlson, Joe Rahe and Garrett Penning all scored runs for the Dragons.
The Rebels offense reignited in the bottom of the fifth. Christian Tentinger hit a towering shot against the wind for a solo home run over the leftfield fence. Abe Paulzine got on base in the subsequent at-bat and later scored the go ahead run for MCC.
Paulzine came on in relief of Kluis in the sixth inning. Paulzine, a Minnesota West baseball commit, is the Rebels' most experienced pitcher and was electric in earning a six-out save for MCC.
“Coming in relief — it is a lot of fun, a lot of energy,” said Paulzine. “Both teams are trying to compete to win and you just have to go out there and throw and get outs — that is all that matters.”
Paulzine struck out three of his six batters faced, but he also was just as effective in creating weak contact off his opposing batters.
“Last year I threw a lot of strikeouts. This year I feel I am really just getting weak contact and that is just fine — any way to get an out, I will take it,” said Paulzine.
The Dragons pitched Quentin Wolf in the final frame. Wolf allowed two hits and one earned run. Krew Schneider hit a leadoff double for the Rebels. He was moved to third by a well executed Tanner Graphenteen bunt and was scored by Derek Kluis.
Kluis had two hits and two RBIs. Tentinger had one hit and an intentional walk. Paulzine scored two runs and had a hit. Connor DeGreeff had a hit and a run batted in.
The Rebels will play Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian on Monday. Paulzine and the team have high hopes for what they can accomplish this season.
“This is our last high school sporting season. I feel like we are just going to try and do the best that we can and give it our all,” said Paulzine on the feeling of the team and senior class. “We have had some challenges but I feel like we are just having fun out there and that’s all you can ask for — have fun and play baseball.”
Adrian/Ellsworth 011 020 0 – 4 5 1
MCC 300 021 X – 6 7 1