WELCOME - The Class A, No. 6-ranked Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Knights fended off a seventh-inning rally to beat the Martin County West Mavericks 3-1 during nonconference baseball action on Thursday at Fox Lake Area Sports Complex in Welcome.
"They are a good team. Defensively, they made all the plays and their pitcher had a great cutter that had us hitting to their shortstop all game," said Martin County West head coach Cody Leiding.
Brandon Helget, the Knights' shortstop, played a part in 13 of the 21 outs in the game, keeping the Maverick runners in check.
FORCED OUT — Martin County West second baseman Jake Faber catches the baseball for a forceout at second base during nonconference action Thursday at the Fox Lake Area Sports Complex in Welcome. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"There aren't many hits that get by him (Helget)," said St. Mary's head coach Bruce Woitas. "He moves well and plays great defense. He had a great game for us today."
Brandon Helget also scored the first of the Knights' three runs on a passed ball in the fourth inning to break open a scoreless game.
"Both pitchers got in a rhythm early, and were keeping runners off the bases," said Woitas. "So we went to a little small ball to see if we could make things happen."
After Maverick hurler Jake Faber moved to second base defensively to start the fourth, Alex Biehn pitched the final innings.
Biehn walked the first two batters he faced - Brandon Helget and Jon Kopacek - for the first scoring threat of the game.
Helget and Kopacek then raced to third and second base on a passed ball in the first pitch delivered to John Brandl.
Brandl laid down a bunt in front of the plate, racing to first for the hit, while Helget raced home to make it 1-0 as Kopacek motored to third.
Biehn struck out Mike Zinniel before Jay Helget smacked a grounder at Faber playing second, scoring Kopacek on the forceout.
Kodan Kosak pitched the complete game for the Knights, allowing just one run on three hits, walking two to earn the victory.
"Their pitcher had a really strong cutter that our guys would swing at thinking it was in the zone, but they'd pull it and it went right to the shortstop," said Leiding. "We talked after the game about how with pitches like those you have to wait and go the other way with it as it tails."
Jay Helget scored the Knights' third run of the game in the seventh to extend their lead, thanks to an RBI single up the middle off the bat of Jared Rothmeier.
Jay Helget walked to start the inning and after racing to second on a passed ball, Nick DeMaris pinch hit and laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him to third.
Rothmeier then smacked a hit to center and Jay Helget cruised home.
In the bottom of the seventh, Tony Payne waited on one of Kosack's pitches to start the Mavericks' final rally.
Payne wheeled to second on a wild pitch delivered to Alex Saxen.
With a 2-2 count, Kosack fired another wild pitch to the backstop, allowing Payne to reach third.
Saxen then drew a walk with another wild pitch for ball four, allowing Payne to motor home for the score.
Faber and Dalton Koenecke recorded the Mavericks' two other hits in the game.
Martin County West (7-4, 4-2 Valley) plays host to Alden-Conger in a Valley Conference game at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Fox Lake Area Sports Complex in Welcome.
Sleepy Eye St. Mary's (13-3) hosts Minnesota Valley Lutheran in doublheader action today.
SESM 000 200 1 - 3 4 0
MCW 000 000 1 - 1 3 0
Kodan Kosak (WP) and Jay Helget. Jake Faber, Alex Biehn (LP, 4) and Toby Haugen.
LOB-SESM 5; MCW 3. 2B-Jon Kopacek (SESM). SAC-Nick DeMaris (SESM), David Surpenant (SESM).
Blue Earth Area 2-1, Waseca 0-3 - The Bucs and Bluejays split a South Central Conference baseball doubleheader on Thursday in Blue Earth.
The Bucs won Game 1 of the five-inning twinbill, shutting out the Bluejays 2-0, before Waseca came back to win the second game 3-1.
Alec Huber pitched all five innings of Game 1, allowing just two hits, striking out five and walking one to earn the win.
Luke Schavey went 1-for-3 in the game for the Bucs, while Seth Anderson went 1-for-1 with a run scored in the win.
Alex Stewart, Allan Davids Quinn Huisman and Kaylan Legred each finished 1-for-2 from the plate. Davids scored a run, while Huisman collected a pair of RBIs.
Max Kaplan pitched four innings for the Bluejays allowing two runs on six hits, striking out five and walking one in absorbing the loss.
The Bluejays bounced back in the second game though, scoring three runs in the second inning as the held off the Bucs.
David Franta pitched four innings, allowing three runs - one earned - on six hits, striking out six and walking one to take the loss.
Franta batted 1-for-3 in the game, while Anderson and Mathew Bell each went 1-for-2.
Kellen Jacobs smacked a double for the Bucs in the game.
Blue Earth Area (6-9, 1-7 SCC) plays host to New Ulm and United South Central in split doubleheader action today in Blue Earth. The Bucs will take on the Eagles at 4:15 p.m., followed by the game with the Rebels at 6:30 p.m. today.
Waseca (3-12, 1-7 SCC) travels to St. Peter today for a 4 p.m. game.
WAS 000 00 - 0 2 1
BEA 002 0x - 2 6 1
Max Kaplan (LP) and Jake Walter. Alec Huber (WP) and Kaylan Legred.
BEA 000 10 - 1 4 2
WAS 030 00 - 3 6 1
David Franta (LP) and Kellen Jacobs. Ben Stoesz (WP) and Max Kaplan.
Martin Luther/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 7, Cleveland 4 - Derek Shoen produced two hits and three RBIs to help engineer the Knights' 7-4 Valley Conference victory over the Clippers on Thursday in Truman.
Carson Hurn went 3-for-4 with a double and scored a run for MLGHEC/Truman, while Colton Greiner went 3-for-3 and scored a pair of runs. Sam Geistfeld chipped in a hit and scored twice.
Starting pitcher Trent Stensland allowed one run on two hits, struck out one, walked one and hit one batter in four innings to earn the victory for the Knights.
Carson Hurn gave up three runs on three hits, struck out two and walked one in three innings of relief to notch the save for MLGHEC/ Truman.
Nick Douglas collected two hits and two RBIs to top Cleveland, while Carter Kopet singled, doubled and scored two runs.
Kopet allowed seven runs on 13 hits, fanned one and walked one in six innings to take the loss.
Martin Luther/Gran-ada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman (3-10, 2-4 Valley) travels to St. James today for a 4 p.m. nonconference game.
CLE 001 003 0 - 4 5 1
MGT 011 203 x - 7 13 2
Carter Kopet (LP) and Greg Berry. Trent Stensland (WP), Carson Hurn (5, Sv) and Tristan Maday.