Springfield ends WBE’s sub-state run; Sleepy Eye ousts Fairmont

WINDING UP — Winnebago/Blue Earth American Legion Posts 82 & 89 shortstop Koby Nagel prepares to fire the baseball across the diamond to first base for an out during an elimination game in the Division II, Southwest Sub-State tournament on Friday in Luverne. (Photo by Kyle McAreavy)

LUVERNE — Winnebago/Blue Earth’s late-inning magic ran out.

Springfield American Legion Post 257 beat WBE Posts 82 & 89 in an elimination-bracket semifinal of the Division II, Southwest Sub-State baseball tournament Friday at Redbird Field in Luverne.

Springfield moved on to face Heron Lake-Okabena in Friday’s elimination-bracket final. Springfield went on to defeat HLO to advance to face Luverne in today’s sub-state championship at noon.

WBE finished its season with a record of 12-3. Head coach Paul Nienaber said he is proud of the effort Posts 82 & 89 put into the summer season.

“We knew we had a good group of kids coming in and a lot of times you have a hype that you don’t play up to, but these kids did everything we asked them to do,” Nienaber said. “We came up a couple plays short of going to state, but that’s why it’s an accomplishment to get there, it’s hard. You have to not only have a good team and play your best baseball at the right time, but you need a little luck. The two teams we lost to in this tournament were really good teams and it’s nothing to be ashamed about, losing to those two. Overall, it was a great year and that’s why it hurts so much when it’s done.”

Springfield used a six-inning, one-run outing from starting pitcher Mitchell Leonard to keep the WBE bats quiet.

WBE scored one run in the second inning and one in the seventh.

In the second, Anders Fering led off with an infield single on a high-hopping grounder to third, before moving to second on a balk. Brayden Barnett continued his hot-hitting tournament with a line-drive double to left-center field to bring Fering around to score.

Down 5-1 in the seventh, WBE tried to bring back the magic it used to beat Truman Post 115 on July 8 after getting down to the final out in an eight-run deficit, but Posts 82 & 89 could muster only one run. Koby Nagel took a walk to lead off the inning, then advanced to second on a ground ball to third and a close play at first. Caelan Sanders doubled to left center to score Nagel, but a flyout ended WBE’s season.

Posts 82 & 89 had chances to score in the fifth and sixth, with Luke Mertens and Gavin Storbeck collecting back-to-back singles in the fifth, and Fering and Barnett reaching second and third in the sixth, but WBE couldn’t get a runner to the plate in either inning.

Nienaber said Springfield took advantage of big moments.

“We battled,” Nienaber said. “They threw a really good pitcher at us, man, we had chances and just couldn’t quite get the big hit when we needed it. They got a big hit or made a big play when they had to. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team, they were better than we were today.”

Springfield scored two in the second inning to take the eventual winning lead.

Brody Sturm led off with a double, Nolan Hovland dropped a sacrifice bunt to move him to third and Carter Augstin doubled to score him before Ivan Hovland singled to score Augstin.

In the third, Mason Rummel doubled, Leonard walked, Sturm and Nolan Hovland both reached on errors, pushing two runs across, and Augustin grounded out for an RBI.

WBE got a complete game from starting pitcher Jared Kennedy. Kennedy pitched six innings and allowed five runs, three earned, on five hits and one walk. Outside of the second and third innings, Kennedy allowed only three baserunners, with two of them reaching on errors.

With the season over, Nienaber gave WBE one final post-game speech.

“I told them only one team gets to win their last game of the season,” Nienaber said. “This speech always hurts every year and it hurts even more with this group because we’re losing some really great leadership, some great kids at the top. If it doesn’t hurt, you probably shouldn’t be playing, but the fact that it hurts means you care and these guys did. They gave us everything they had. I told them to keep their heads up, we’ve got a really good group coming back next year, all we did was get better this year and for the seniors and college kids who left us, they gave us everything they had. I think because of that, this one has a little extra sting because we’re losing such great kids.”

WBE 010 000 1 — 2 7 4

SPR 023 000 x — 5 4 0

Jared Kennedy (LP) and Karson Legred. Mitchell Leonard (WP), Herny Scheitel (7) and Mason Rummel.

LOB–WBE 5, SPR 4. 2B–Brayden Barnett (WBE), Caelan Sanders (WBE), Brody Sturm (SPR), Carter Augustin (SPR) Mason Rummel (SPR). SAC–Nolan Hovland (SPR).

Division 1 Playoffs

Sleepy Eye 7, Fairmont 0 — Post 7 shut out Post 36 during an elimination game in the Division I, Sub-State 2 tournament Friday at Mueller Park in New Ulm.

Eli Anderson collected two hits to top Fairmont’s effort, while teammates Blake Buntjer and Zach Jorgensen supplied one hit apiece.

Joey Flohrs allowed four earned — on 14 hits, and struck out two in six innings of work to take the loss for Fairmont, which ended the season with a 5-9 record.