Cathedral barely escapes Nicollet

NEW ULM – New Ulm Cathedral’s Brandon Berenek’s fifth-inning RBI single was the difference as the Greyhounds snuck by the Nicollet Raiders 4-3 in the first round of the Section 2A, North Subsection playoffs Saturday afternoon at Mueller Park.

Collin Helget picked up the win while striking out six batters and allowing five hits and no walks in seven innings. Jay Hendrycks pitched all six innings in a losing effort for the Raiders. He gave up nine hits while striking out two batters.

“The toughest game to win in playoffs is usually that first game,” Cathedral coach Bob Weier said. “It doesn’t make much difference who you play or where you’re seeded. It just seems to be a tough game.”

It was a tough top of the first inning for the Greyhounds. Nicollet’s Matt Fischer started out the game with a base hit, then with one out Matt Christenson blasted one over the fence for a two-run home run to give the Raiders an early advantage. However, it didn’t take very long for the Greyhounds to jump back into the game.

Josh Kienlin started the game off offensively for the Greyhounds with a single and he later stole second base. Helget’s single pushed Kienlin to third and clean-up hitter Russ Hoffmann’s single brought Kienlin in to put the Greyhounds on the board. Two batters later Gabe Knowles tied the game up with a base knock. The Greyhounds got one more run in the second inning when Jake Stadick scored on an RBI hit by Helget before the bats fell silent for a few innings.

“I thought one of the keys to the game was coming back that first inning and scoring two runs right away,” Weier said. “We were able to tie the game up and take some of the momentum back.”

After exchanging a couple of scoreless innings Nicollet was able to tie it up in the fourth. Tanner Elliott lead-off the inning with a double to get into scoring position. The very next batter Matt Johnson also found some green as he doubled in a run to tie the game up. Helget settled down after that and didn’t have any trouble with the Raider’s.

“Collin pitched very well,” Weier said. “He overpowered him to start with and then the second time through the lineup they started to time his fastball. He had very good command of his curveball and that was the difference of him being able to finish the game or not.”

The Greyhounds were able to get what ended up being the game-winning run in the fifth inning. Stadick started the inning off with a single to left field. Hoffmann reached on an error which put runners on the corners and brought Berenek to the plate. Berenek waited on the pitch and lined it into left field, allowing Stadick to score easily from third base to score the fourth run.

Nicollet put a threat on the Greyhounds in the seventh inning with a lead-off single before Helget came up huge. Helget noticed that the pinch-runner was gingerly leading off the base and Helget waited for the perfect moment to fire over to first to pick off the runner and take away all of Nicollet’s hopes of tying the game.

The victory pushes the Greyhounds into the second round where they will play BOLD at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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