Lead hitters propel Sleepy Eye past Blue
By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM – Saturday morning was no time for cartoons when New Ulm Legion Blue and Sleepy Eye Legion took the field at Johnson Park.
With a second-place bid on the line, the two teams battled in a tightly knit contest that was tense for both sides. However, it was Sleepy Eye that emerged victorious 3-2 despite a solid effort from Blue in Pool D of the Upper Midwest Classic.
“Both teams missed some opportunities to get some runs,” said Sleepy Eye coach Bruce Woitas. “Mike [Zinniel] pitched great for us, throwing strikes; guys were playing defense and it was nice to get a ‘W’ again.”
Zinniel got the win for Post 7, striking out eight batters in seven innings pitched. He scattered Blue’s eight hits with only one of his two allowed runs tagged as earned.
“For the summer, it’s probably his best outing,” Woitas said. “He pitched well, he did a nice job on the mound.”
Andrew Stewart got the loss for Blue less than 24 hours after getting the win in three innings of its eight-inning 10-9 comeback victory against Bloomington Gold. Stewart went six innings and allowed two earned runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
“He did what we needed him to do,” said Blue coach Mike Munce.
Even though Sleepy Eye outhit Blue by a slim 9-8 margin, the key was its No. 1-3 batters, who accounted for seven of those nine hits.
Matt Berkner went 3-for-4, David Surprenant went 1-for-4 and Brandon Helget went 3-for-3 with two RBIs off a triple to the center-field fence. All three scored one run apiece for Sleepy Eye.
“That’s key,” Woitas said. “You expect those from those guys at that part of the order.”
Helget’s two-run triple in the bottom of the third inning was the offensive play of the game, driving in Berkner and Surprenant to tie it at 2-2.
“I was looking for a fastball and I got my pitch,” Helget said. “I swung pretty hard.”
Jon Kopacek later reached on an error to drive in Helget for what ended up being the game-deciding run.
Mike Hirsch had the other two hits for Sleepy Eye, going 2-for-3.
For Blue, Alex Guggisberg went 2-for-3 and Jack Schwartz went 1-for-3 – both with an RBI each. Jarrin Spence went 2-for-3 with one run scored and a double.
Sleepy Eye 15,
Sleepy Eye concluded its stand at the Upper Midwest Classic with a 15-10 victory against Rosetown, which finished second in Pool C.
Jacob Mielke was the winning pitcher, having given up seven runs in six innings of work.
Surprenant led Post 7 at the plate with a 3-for-3 performance that tabbed him with three RBIs and two doubles. Sam Hirschboeck also had three RBIs on a 2-for-3 stand at the plate.
Helget led the team with four RBIs on a 3-for-4 stand, also notching a double. Hirsch was 3-for-5 with one RBI.
With the win, Sleepy Eye finished 3-1 in the Upper Midwest Classic. The team will return to Mueller Park at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, when it will play New Ulm Legion Gold.
Sioux Falls West 16,
New Ulm Blue 1
In the second half of its day, Blue lost its spark in falling to Sioux Falls West 16-1.
Spence took the loss for Blue. He gave up 16 runs – eight of which were earned – on four hits in 1 1/3 innings pitched. He walked three batters and hit four more while striking out three.
Alex Stark was 1-for-2 with one run scored and Brandon Beranek was 1-for-1 as well.
Blue finished the Classic 1-3 and will return to action at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, when it plays at Mankato American.
N.U. Blue 020 000 0 – 2 8 4
Sleepy Eye 003 000 x – 3 9 3
Stewart and Schwartz; Zinniel and Hirsch.
W – Zinniel (S) 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
L – Stewart (B) 6 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Leading hitters – N.U. Blue: Spence 2-3 1 R 2B, Rowley 1-3 1 R 1 K, Schwartz 1-3 1 RBI, Guggisberg 2-3 1 RBI; Sleepy Eye: Berkner 3-4 1 R, Surprenant 1-4 1 R, B Helget 3-3 2 RBI 1 R 3B, Hirsch 2-3.