Hampton qualifies for state tournament
The Hampton Cardinals are headed to the state tournament. Hampton beat New Prague, 6-3, on Sunday to advance.
Hampton scored the first run early, but New Prague picked up three runs in the fifth and held Hampton off much of the game. In the ninth inning, however, the game turned. Still trailing 3-2, Hampton had men on first and second base, and a fielding error at second base turned what should have been a double play - and the end of the game - into an opportunity for the Cardinals to come back, which is exactly what they did.
"That kept us alive, and we went on to score," said the team's business manager, Marlin Reinardy.
Hampton scored five runs in that last inning to win the game.
Duane Slinde started for the Cardinals and pitched five innings. He was relieved by Robert Burr, who threw three innings. Keith Meyers pitched the final inning to get the save.
Even at the top of the ninth, the Cardinal players were sure they would be able to pull ahead, Reinardy said. He wasn't in the dugout, but players told him after that they felt they were going to win.
They haven't had that confidence much of the season, Reinardy said.
"One of the things, I am kind of surprised, is that the team, especially now, they've got more confidnence now than they've had all year," he said.
In his mind, that's contributed to the team's late success.
"That might be helping propel as much as anything," he said.
Hampton had to beat St. Patrick Friday in order to play New Prague in the qualifying round. Hampton won, 1-0. Jordan Buck drove in the winning run in the sixth inning.
The key game, however, was the playoff game against Cannon Falls, Reinardy said.
The first game went 15 innings before Hampton snuck out a win, and the team was able to win a second time, again finding a late lead, this time in the ninth inning.
"Those were two games I never expected," Reinardy said.
Since then, the Cardinals have been putting their momentum to good use.
"Now it seems we're pretty much going on a roll," Reinardy said.
Before playing at state, the Cardinals play the seeding game for Region Three Sunday at 2 p.m. in Hampton. Their opponent has not yet been decided. The winner of the game earns the No. 1 seed from the region, while the loser earns the No. 2 seed. Both teams advance to the state tournament.
The Cardinals played in the state tournament last year. They won the first game, but lost the second.
At the beginning of this season, Reinardy wasn't sure his team was going to make it this far again, especially since they had just changed managers.
"I didn't feel we were state tournament bound," he confessed.
But his team has had a knack for pulling out wins late in the season, and this season was no exception.
The Class C state tournament begins Aug. 20, but Hampton doesn't play until Aug. 21. Depening on the results of the seeding game. The No. 1 seed will play at 1:30 p.m., while the No. 2 seed will play at 11 a.m.
With the team's attitude, they might have a better shot at digging deeper into the tournament. They also have a strong pitching lineup that could carry them beyond the first game.
"I think we got pretty decent pitching going in," Reinardy said.
To reach the double-elimination portion, Hampton will have to win the first three games. Reinardy said he thinks that getting that far is within reach.
"I'm sure that's what their goals are going to be," he said of the players.
"You never know."