Region 13C amateur baseball matchups are set
There are three obvious favorites set to compete Wednesday night in the Region 13C amateur baseball playoffs, an eight-team competition that determines three spots in the upcoming state tournament.
“I think Milroy, Luverne and Windom have the makings for a really deep run in the state tournament,” said Jackson manager Scott Bahr. “Those three are as good as there are in the state, and not just in our region.”
That was reflected Monday night when the Region 13C seeds were announced. The Milroy Irish, 18-1 and champions of the Gopher League, were named the top seed. Luverne (17-2), the only team to defeat the Irish in Gopher League play, were No. 2. And First Nite League winner Windom (16-3) was named No. 3. The voting was done by a regional committee that included Gopher League president Brooks Maurer of Luverne, Region 13C commissioner Greg Rossow, and First Nite League president Bahr.
“I feel real confident that the seeding came out how it should have,” Bahr said. “A lot of emphasis was based on the regular season and it showed in the seeding.”
Milroy meets Ruthton, Luverne takes on Adrian and Windom squares off with Fairmont in best-of-three series this week.
Also starting a best-of-three are the Jackson Bulls of manager Bahr and skipper Myron Bennett’s Hadley Buttermakers. Between them, the two men have more than 60 years of managerial experience and perhaps 1,200 victories.
“It shows the commitment we’ve had from the players we’ve had,” Bahr said. “Both Hadley and Jackson have a great baseball culture. I think there’s a lot of respect between these two franchises.”
The Bulls are in the regional tournament for the 30th time in the last 31 years. Jackson’s town team was started by Tyrone Wacker in 1985. Bahr, a 1988 graduate of Jackson High, started playing with the Bulls in 1987 and took over as manager in 1989. He’s led Jackson to 12 state tournament berths and more than 600 victories.
“Tyrone and I did a lot of those together,” said Bahr. “It’s a testament to the Jackson Bulls more than anything I’ve done.”
Jackson hopes to have star shortstop Easton Bahr back on the field this week. The son of the Bulls’ manager suffered a dislocated elbow during a victory in Hadley several weeks ago.
Easton’s on-base percentage is close to .500 this year.
Hadley’s team is led by veterans Joe Larson, Nick Bruning, Max Zwart, Trent Carlson, Sam Erickson, Eric Wieneke and Alex Petersen. That nucleus, managed by Bennett, has qualified for eight state tourneys.
“This is about as tight a matchup as you can get,” said Jackson manager Scott Bahr. “We have a lot of respect for the Hadley team. They always seem to step up in the playoffs.”
Veteran lefty Ryan Rasche, Jackson’s career leader in wins, will start Wednesday night’s opener.
“Ryan’s pitched a lot of playoff games and we always feel confident with him on the mound,” said Bahr, whose team last qualified for the state meet in 2018. “We know what we’re going to get: He’s going to mix his pitch selection up and get a lot of strikes. We’ll have to play good defense.”
Hadley, which had a run of state tourney berths stopped last year, is 17-8 overall. Jackson, which defeated the Buttermakers 2-1 and 16-6 during the regular season, is 18-7.
Last season, Hadley defeated Jackson 6-5 in a decision in Game 3 of the regional playoffs. The Buttermakers are expected to send standout right-hander Jacob Van Dam to the mound on Wednesday.
“It always seems like it’s us and Jackson,” Hadley manager Bennett said. “Over the years we’ve met a lot in the playoffs and I couldn’t tell you which team has won more often. It’s always exciting playing against Jackson, against Scott and the Bulls. We’re looking forward to it.”
It might be true that teams from Milroy, Luverne and Windom are heavy favorites to advance to the Region 13C’s “final four,” but indeed the fourth spot is a tossup.
“I think it’s pretty wide open overall,” Bennett said. “There are six or more excellent teams left. Only three get to go to the state tournament, so there’s going to be some pretty good teams not advancing this year.”
(Seeds in parentheses)
(No. 1) Milroy Irish vs. (No. 8) Ruthton Royals
Wednesday, Game 1 at Milroy Irish, 7:30
Friday, Game 2 at Ruthton, 2:00
Sunday, Game 3 if necessary at Milroy Irish, 2:00
(No. 2) Luverne Redbirds vs. (No. 7) Adrian A’s
Wednesday, Game 1 at Luverne, 7:30
Friday, Game 2 at Adrian, 7:30
Sunday, Game 3 if necessary at Luverne, 4:00
(No. 3) Windom Pirates vs. (No. 6) Fairmont Martins
Wednesday, Game 1 at Windom, 7:30
Friday, Game 2 at Fairmont, 7:30
Sunday, Game 3 if necessary at Windom, 2:00
(No. 4) Hadley Buttermakers vs. (No. 5) Jackson Bulls
Wednesday, Game 1 at Jackson, 7:30
Saturday, Game 2 at Hadley, 2:00
Sunday, Game 3 if necessary at Hadley, 2:00