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Region 13 amateur tournament ready to start

Cubs vs Milroy S3.jpg
Worthington's Logan Huisman (6) gets the out on second base as Milroy’s Tyler Peterson (12) slides in Friday night's Cubs-Irish amateur baseball playoff game in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

This is the time of year when amateur baseball teams tell themselves it’s time to get serious, to get tough, to grab for the brass ring.

It appears that several teams have gotten the message.

League playoff series concluded over the weekend, and a handful of area squads were dominant. The Windom Pirates were one of those, ending their best-of-three series with Ruthton by winning the second game of the series 14-2 on Friday. Windom captured the opener 8-1.

“We came ready to play both games. We started off slow on Wednesday, but once we got rolling we put up some runs,” said manager Nick Kulseth.

In Game Two, Windom put up 11 runs in the first three innings and finished with 13 hits overall. Alex Fink belted a three-run home run to give his team a 7-0 lead, and pitcher Kobe Lovell hurled six innings, allowing three hits and two runs.

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The Jackson Bulls also won their playoff series in two games, beating Tracy 12-1 and 17-1 in two seven-inning contests. Adrian had a tougher time with Heron Lake but also won two in a row, 8-6 and 4-2. The Hadley Buttermakers dispatched Mountain Lake 3-1 and 4-2. And the Milroy Irish beat the Worthington Cubs 8-1 and 11-2.

The only series that went three games was the Pipestone/Lakefield series, and that ended in a controversy. Lakefield won the opener on Wednesday, 6-1. Pipestone game back to win the second game Friday, 11-8.

The third game on Sunday went 12 innings and ended in a 3-2 Pipestone victory. But the Horned Frogs lodged a protest, saying that a run they scored in the 11th inning, which was canceled, should have ended the game then.

Lakefield had runners on first and third base in the 11th, and the player on first took off for second to steal as a pitch hurtled toward the next Lakefield batter. The batter swung, hitting a sacrifice fly to center field, and the runner on third scored as the throw home was late. However, the base runner on first, thinking he didn’t need to go back to first, was tagged out and umpires ruled the game was still in a tie.

The game continued, with Pipestone scoring the winning run in the 12th.

After the game ended, Lakefield players consulted the rule book and were convinced their 11th inning run should have counted. It was only then that they lodged a protest to the state, and the ruling went in Pipestone’s favor.

Lakefield manager Nolan Luhmann said his protest failed because it was lodged too late. If it had been lodged while the game was undecided, the Frogs would have won.

Even so, Luhmann said he understood the reasoning. “If I’m an outsider looking in, they did the right thing,” he said Monday.

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“It was, for us, a crazy season, a crazy way to end the season, and a crazy world right now,” he concluded.

Representatives from the winning teams met Monday night to establish the next round of Region 13 series. Fairmont secured the top seed, followed by Luverne, Windom, Milroy, Jackson, Hadley, Adrian and Pipestone.

Games begin Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. with Pipestone at Fairmont, Adrian at Luverne, Hadley at Windom and Jackson at Milroy. On Friday night, Fairmont is at Pipestone, Luverne is at Adrian and Milroy is at Jackson. Windom is at Hadley Saturday in a 2 p.m. game. The third game of every series, if necessary, will be played at the top-seeded teams on Sunday.

Four teams will emerge from the Region 13 tournament, and the top three qualify for state.

The season is officially over for the Worthington Cubs, but despite their 2-12 record, players feel that they’ve made important strides from their winless campaign of 2019.

“Before the playoffs, we had four games where we lost by two runs or less. We could’ve been .500,” said player-manager Ryan Swanson.

“To me, we’re rebuilding,” he added. “I would say we made a large step forward. And we’ve got some young guys coming up that are going to be the core of our team.”

The Cubs exited the playoffs Friday largely because of wildness on the pitcher’s mound. Three different Worthington hurlers combined for 16 walks and five wild pitches.

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Worthington’s two runs were scored on a third-inning RBI single by Adam Russell and a sixth-inning RBI single by Ethan Duffy.

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