Congratulations to Eden Valley-Watkins and its top-notch pitcher in American Legion baseball. Righty Hayden Wilner was in the zone Saturday (7/28) in the climactic phase of District 7 Division II play. His success was at the expense of our gallant Post #29 crew.
Double-elimination tournaments can be cruel! A team appears to reach the apex only to be turned back twice at the end. This is the fate that befell the Morris Legion team this past weekend. The site was Montevideo.
Morris had carved out its share of success there, going into the deciding Saturday chapter. Morris was coming off a 6-0 win that had Jacob Torgerson showcased in a way that spelled "ace." Flashback: Torgerson pitched a perfect game during the spring high school season.
But Saturday was a day for EV-W's Wilner to own. His performance might suggest a touch of controversy. This is because of the arguably loose limits for innings thrown in a day. Wilner tossed a complete game (seven innings) in the 5-2 win that EV-W achieved at first.
The two teams would take the diamond again in a winner-take-all confrontation for No. 1. You would think that a seven-inning complete game would be plenty for a teenage pitcher's arm in a day. But out strode Wilner to the mound again. He would be permitted to throw five more innings. In my opinion that's too much, especially when you consider the break between games and how the pitcher's arm might stiffen a bit and have to get loosened again.
It's not my decision to make, so Wilner was back at it for the second game. He pitched his full five innings that he was allotted. He was relieved by John Bautch for two innings. Bautch kept the EV-W momentum intact as he allowed no hits and no runs.
Eden Valley-Watkins repeats as the district champion. Now they're on to the state Division II affair which is set this coming weekend.
EV-W had to overcome a setback in the first round of the district "Final 4" when they were beaten by host Montevideo. They rebounded with wins over BOLD and Montevideo to earn the right to face top seed Morris on Saturday.
A consolation for Post #29 is three players getting named all-tournament: Jacob Torgerson, Mac Beyer and Tanner Picht.
Eden Valley-Watkins won the first game 5-2 Saturday. Morris trailed 1-0 after three innings but fell into a hole in the fourth when EV-W struck for three runs.
EV-W added a run in the top of the fifth before Morris broke through for two runs in the bottom, taking advantage of some EV-W fielding lapses. So it's not like they were suddenly knocking the cover off the ball vs. Wilner.
Neither of the runs that Wilner allowed were earned. He struck out five batters, walked three and allowed four hits in his seven innings.
Morris pitcher Chandler Erickson worked the full seven too and his control was fine with zero walks. But he did allow ten hits and five runs of which four were earned. He set down three batters on strikes.
The line scores had EV-W with five runs, ten hits and two errors, and Motown with two runs, four hits and one error.
Four Morris batters each had one hit: Torgerson, Erickson, Tyler Henrichs and Jordan Staples. Picht and Staples scored the Morris runs.
Travis Linn went two-for-three with a double and RBI for EV-W. Mitch Geislinger also went two-for-three for the victor and knocked in two runs.
The weather of late has been hot, so it was no routine challenge for hurler Wilner to take that deep breath, warm up and then step onto the pitching rubber for game #2 Saturday, with the state berth at stake. He sure came through.
He might have been even more commanding this time around. He had to be, considering his team scored but one run. That one run held up in the 1-0 Eden Valley-Watkins triumph. The run was scored in the very first inning when Kevin Kramer singled off Mac Beyer, stole second and came home on a single off Brendan Ashton's bat.
Little did the Morris athletes realize this one early run was going to make the difference. But it sure did, as Wilner and then reliever Bautch slammed the door, giving up just two hits between them. Wilner fanned three batters and walked one. Bautch had a row of zeroes after his innings pitched.
Beyer pitched gamely and effectively the whole way for Post #29. He struck out four batters and walked none in his six innings. He allowed eight hits and the one EV-W run. Such numbers would spell "win" on many days indeed.
Offensively Chandler Erickson and Jordan Staples each went one-for-three.
Ashton had a super showing at bat for the victor with three hits in as many at-bats and the decisive RBI. Indeed, Ashton had a super district tournament, on fire with 12 hits over the five games his team played. In one stretch he reached base 13 times over 14 plate appearances.
Can he and his mates parley such stellar play into state? We'll start finding out on Friday. The first test for EV-W will be the District 3 champion in a game set to be played bright and early at 9:30 a.m. Friday (8/3) in Sacred Heart.
Can Wilner's resilient arm re-charge? We'll find out.
Morris 6, Montevideo 0
Jacob Torgerson was in control on the mound, firmly, in the winners bracket final game on Thursday, July 26. He allowed just three hits. If only this tournament weren't double-elimination!
Post #29 wouldn't be able to survive the subsequent challenge from Eden Valley-Watkins.
Torgerson zeroed in on the strike zone, issuing no walks. His task was made easier by some Montevideo fielding miscues when Morris was at bat. Monte committed four errors while Motown executed flawless fielding. Torgerson fanned three batters.
The losing pitcher was Jordan Thompson. Three of the six runs that Thompson allowed were unearned. The Morris bats connected for ten hits off him.
Tanner Picht was on the attack with three hits in four at-bats including a triple and double. He scored two runs. Torgerson helped his own cause - sorry for using that old cliche - with two hits in four at-bats.
Chandler Erickson drove in two runs and scored two while going one-for-three. Mac Beyer doubled and drove in two runs while enjoying a two-for-three outing. Bryce Jergenson went one-for-two and Andrew Rentz one-for-three.
Three players went one-for-three for Montevideo: Joe Bednar, Tanner Lindemann and Austin Hoehne.
What a summer of memories for Morris Legion baseball Post #29! Good luck to Eden Valley-Watkins in state.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org