Springfield falls to New Prague; eliminated from tourney
MAPLE LAKE, Minn. – In one of his hit singles, Johnny Cash once sang “Get rhythm before you get the blues.”
The Springfield Tigers had the blues, trailing the New Prague Orioles 4-1 as Cash’s song, titled “Get Rhythm,” played over the sound system before the seventh inning of a first-round Class C State Amateur tournament game on Sunday.
However, Springfield could not get any rhythm all game in its 8-1 loss that led to elimination from the tournament.
“We’re awfully young; we’ve struggled the last three games scoring runs,” said Springfield coach Steve Helget. “Pitchers are going to match up very well when they’re veterans. We’ve just got a very young hitting lineup.”
The Tigers left two runners on base in the top of the first inning, primed to turn quick outs against the top of the Orioles’ lineup and keep the game scoreless after one.
With one out and a runner on first base, New Prague’s Austin Bachman batted a groundball out to Alex Fink at shortstop, setting up for an easy 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Fink bobbled the ball, however, and was unable to make a throw as both runners got on base.
Both went on to score the first two of three runs that the Orioles put on the board in that inning, forcing the Tigers to have to catch up early.
“That was on me,” Fink said. “It happens, it’s baseball. Errors are going to happen. I was more mad at myself than anything else.”
Helget said Fink more than made up for it at the plate as he led all hitters in the game with a 3-for-4 outing. However, Fink’s success did not rub off and after a one-run second inning, the Tigers laid goose eggs across the board.
“We had our chances – there were a couple innings early when it was closer that [we] had guys in scoring position, we just couldn’t catch a break or get a big hit,” Fink said.
The biggest missed opportunity for the Tigers came in the third when Fink blasted a shot over left fielder Jake Malz’s head for a lead-off double and the 4-5-6 hitters coming to the plate to potentially drive him in.
Ryan Sturm flew out in the next at-bat, however, and Fink was thrown out at home plate after designated hitter Marc Salazar flew out to center field.
After that inning, the Tigers failed to get a runner on base until the eighth inning.
Orioles first baseman Aaron Shetka was a big contributor in complicating the Tigers’ run-seeking effort. Shetka was proactive in going after fly balls in foul territory, netting four outs throughout the game and taking away those second chances at the plate.
“He made a couple of nice catches, but the other ones were right to him,” Helget said. “He didn’t have to work real hard for them and [those are] pretty easy outs.”
NP pitcher Dusty Beckins got the win, allowing four hits and one earned run in five innings of work before letting Ben Morrison – a draftee from Prior Lake – get the save.
Hanska draftee Dayton Larson got the loss for the Tigers, allowing four runs – one earned – off five hits with a game-high four strikeouts in five innings pitched.
Brandon Wilhelmi held his ground in relief of Larson until the eighth inning, when he allowed four earned runs – two of which were scored by pinch hitters in the Orioles’ lineup.
Springfield ends its season with a 20-16 record.
“We’re a really young team – I think we’re one of the youngest teams probably in the state tournament,” Fink said. “We’ve been getting better each year I’ve played and we’ve got a lot of guys coming back next year.”
In other state tournament action on Sunday, Fairfax lost to Union Hill 6-1 to be eliminated. Brownton fell to Dumont 4-3.
Spr. 010 000 000 – 1 6 2
NP 300 010 04x – 8 10 0
W: Dusty Beckins (NP) – 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 68 pitches
L: Dayton Larson (S) – 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 94 pitches
Sv: Ben Morrison (NP) – 4 IP, 2 H, 2 K, 40 pitches
Brandon Wilhelmi (S) – 2 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 K, 50 pitches
Jason Nachreiner (S) – 1/3 IP, 6 pitches
Alex Fink (S) 3-4, 1 SB, 2B
Jacob Menage (S) 1-4, 1 RBI
Austin Bachman (NP) 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB
Justin Novak (NP) 1-3, 2 RBI, 1 R, 3 SB