Mudhens advance to state tournament
MIESVILLE - Second chances can be a beautiful thing and the Miesville Mudhens appreciated a second crack at earning a state tournament berth Saturday at the Minnesota Baseball Association Class B Super Section Tournament at Jack Ruhr Stadium in Miesville.
The Mudhens let a 2-0 lead slip away in the top of the ninth inning against the Mankato Twins and Mankato stole a 4-2 victory from Miesville to secure a spot in the eight-team state tournament, which will take place next weekend in Hutchinson.
"That was a soul-crusher," said Mudhens manager and center fielder Matt Van Der Bosch. "Things got out of control in that last inning."
Miesville's Luke Rasmussen and Mankato's Danny Miller engaged in a pitchers' duel for much of the first game of the day for the Mudhens, but it was Miller's club that came up with a 4-2 win despite eight solid innings from Rasmussen.
Rasmussen held the Twins to two hits through eight innings, including six consecutive innings of no-hit ball, but in the final frame things came apart for Rasmussen and Miesville.
Mankato second baseman and manager Jay Nessler delivered a two-run single that put the Twins ahead for the first time in the game in the ninth.
"Any time you put up four runs in the ninth you feel like you stole one," Nessler said.
Mankato got back-to-back doubles from Steven Helget and Ryan Greene to get on the board. Jovon Rodriguez reached on an infield single that scored one run to tie the game.
Rasmussen looked sharp through the first eight innings as he used his off-speed pitches to get ahead and kept the Twins guessing at the plate. Rasmussen finished six strikeouts and three walks, one intentional.
"Ras (Rasmussen) pitched an awesome game," Van Der Bosch said. "They weren't sniffing him at all."
Miller put together an equally impressive outing for Mankato as he limited the Mudhens offensively. Miller went eight-plus innings and allowed two unearned runs on four hits. Miller struck out five and walked one.
"He battled for us," Nessler said. "He didn't want to come out at the end."
Nessler lifted Miller for Kevin Regan, who came in with a runner on and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth. Regan struck out Sam Ryan and walked Andrew Warner before he got Max Ryan to ground into a game-ending double play.
The Mudhens had to regain their composure quickly because they faced Elko in an elimination game with a state tournament berth on the line. Miesville clinched a spot in the state tournament in its second effort with a 4-1 victory over the Express that also had some drama in the ninth inning.
With two outs in the ninth Elko collected back-to-back base hits off Mudhens starter Erik Olson to start a rally. One out away from making state tournament, Van Der Bosch put in Brian Meyers, who got Dylan Thomas to ground into a fielder's choice to end the game and vault Miesville into the state tournament after a one-year absence.
"Just glad to escape and get that spot to state locked up," said Van Der Bosch, who went 2-for-4 with a run.
The Mudhens grabbed a 1-0 lead in to the top of the first courtesy of some wildness from Elko starter Ryan Van Dusen. Miesville's David Bruchu singled with one out and moved to second when David Olson reached on an error. Two wild pitches by Van Dusen allowed Bruchu to score.
The game remained 1-0 until the sixth inning when the Mudhens tacked on two runs to extend their lead to 3-0. No. 9 hitter Matt Hanse drew a lead-off walk while Van Der Bosch and Bruchu both reached on bunt base hits to load the bases for David Olson. Olson flew out to right to score a run and one batter later Brian Schmitz came through with an RBI single to score Van Der Bosch.
Bruchu came up with his third hit of the game in the seventh inning to score Chris Couillard and make it a 4-0 game.
The Express came back in the eighth inning to cut the lead to 4-1 after Jeremy Chlan scored on an error.
Erik Olson recorded the victory on the mound by going 8 2/3 innings. Olson gave up one run on nine hits, walked three and struck out two.